Ten Words to Tears

Hardly a day goes by in my life that tears are. It a part of.  At church as a prayer partner, at my children’s hospital as I work, hey even my wife cries at home when her husband makes her go crazy.  Seriously though, tears are common in my life.

They are all too common in my work in the Pediatric ICU or with families whose kids just received new diagnoses of diabetes.  What is all the more interesting is that it’s not because of anything that I am that draws tears, not because I am super compassionate or because my words are so profound.  Tears are ready and present to come to a parent who has been brought to their knees by something as simple as a fall of their kid from the couch to something as challenging as uncontrollable new seizures in their daughter, as simple as a failed bike ride, or as complex as a near drowning.  The tears are just waiting on the surface, and the simplest of phrases tends to reach it.

“You know all too well it’s not easy being here.”

Hi I’m James the chaplain…and you know all too well it’s not easy being here. And cue the tears.  The parents know it all too well- life sucks right now and the fact that they are here right now reflects the reality of a suspended world, a world full of more questions and what ifs and thinking the worst than they could have imagined.

“You know all too well it’s not easy being here.”

It’s just not.  And somehow God has called me to tap into that place of hurt.  Sometimes I think I do a pretty damn good job, and sometimes I fail miserably only to get up and do it again. But I will say, people think I am great because of that sentence, which brings the emotion almost every time, as though it’s my badge of honor getting to tears in ten words.  But it’s just the obvious. And I get the privilege of doing it.

Tears are a reality of life, but they a pretty important part.  I have learned that they are almost always there anytime you are willing to handle them, if we just acknowledge the simple and hard realities of life, and the tears flow. We all need them from time to time.

Perhaps the greater learning is why tears are so accessible with such simple openings.  It is because they are one of the purest forms of words we have, smiles and tears are profound words we offer, symbols of love for that which we smile at and cry for.  They are better at saying how we feel than are actual words can communicate.  And for that, the smiles, and in these cases, the tears, are gifts, albeit not ones we wanted- gifts of love indeed.