What makes you cry?

I am a Stoic by nature and by choice. I choose to view life, primarily, through the lens of rationality instead of emotionality. When reflecting on any given moment in time I am comfortable with the phrase “it is what it is.” So I seldom weep. (Here’s a brief summary of stoicism.)

But several weeks ago I was driving down Highway 175 heading to my vineyard, listening to a podcast, and upon hearing a particular story, I felt a swelling in my chest and throat, and I started to weep.

That got me thinking. What makes me cry, and why?

  • When I see pictures of starving children in third world countries, I don’t weep, I get angry.
  • When I experience loss, I usually become quiet and withdrawn.
  • When I watch a romantic comedy (which is seldom) I want to gag on a spoon, not cry.

I have, however, identified two situations which stir me deeply.

  1. When I observe a common, ordinary person extending a simple act of kindness to someone and that action brings about a significant transformation in the person’s life. For instance, my favorite movie scene is in the 1978 version of Les Miserables. When Jean Valjean is caught stealing silver flatware from a priest, he is arrested. When the priest is asked to testify against him, the priest says, “Jean, I’m glad you remembered to take the silver pieces I gave you.” This act of grace changes his life. Another example is the incident that changed Desmond Tutu’s life (click here for the story).
  2. When a highly capable and productive person demonstrates true humility and is self-effacing. (See my post titled “Have more behind the counter than you put on the shelf”.) 

I recently asked my staff the question, “What makes you cry?”; everyone’s answer was unique. 

Discovering what stirs you deeply will give you keen insight into your identity and your values. It’s one of many ways in which you have been “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

[reminder]This begs the question, “What makes you cry?” [/reminder]

20 Replies to “What makes you cry?”

  1. What makes me cry is being in a situation that I want to help someone but have no control to do. Also, seeing someone hurt emotionally and not being able to help. Example I have a close friend who is 12 yrs younger who is fighting stage 4 lung cancer and never smoked or drank in their life. I feel for that person so much but cannot help.

    1. Ed, thanks for sharing a glimpse of your personal journey. You must have a merciful heart that is touched deeply by the misfortunes of others. don

  2. Don,

    Like you, I consider myself a stoic. However, three things make me cry: 1) hearing or watching acts of compassion toward those who are suffering with illnesses or disabilities (the University of Iowa’s tradition of waving at the children watching from the Children’s Hospital overlooking the football stadium); 2) witnessing an act of reconciliation, e.g., the scene in Field of Dreams where father and son play catch; 3) listening to the song, Kentucky Rose, performed by Michael W. Smith, about a rural pastor sacrificing his life to save a child (I have never listened to that song without tearing up).

    1. Bill, thanks for sharing those three moments in life that touch you deeply. #2 gave me pause; that’s a beautiful sight to see. Thanks for our friendship. don

  3. Standing and singing a great hymn or gospel song with familiar and tested lyrics in a place of worship that holds deep meaning and memories of God’s faithfulness to me and those I love. I often reach a lyric or refrain that touches me so deeply I can no longer sing until I have regrouped my emotions with joy and thanksgiving.

    1. Paul, I, too, often get caught up in the transcendence of singing meaningful text set to beautiful music. Sometimes all we can do is stand still. Don

  4. My faith tradition has a piece of wood at the front of the church called an altar. It is a relic from the Holiness Movement and the mourners bench. It is a holy space of communication with the eternal ever loving one in times of dedication, celebration and repentance. People coming to the altar makes me cry and if I have the privilege of praying with them I cry even more. I believe it is contact with true humility that is the cause. Then the miracle of the eternal ever loving one meeting everyone who humbles themselves. Worthy of tears.

    1. Denise, thank for writing beautiful, descriptive, inspiring words. I wish I could see that altar and those who find it a sacred place. Don

  5. I respond as you do, Don. There’s a line in Les Mis that always chokes me up—something like, “To forgive another is to touch the face of God.” Unexpected kindness, mercy, and forgiveness—these should move our hearts.

  6. I can’t even hear or sing Christian music without tearing up. I can’t lead a prayer with other people without getting overly emotional and crying, especially when I am praying for the persecuted people in this world. I cry when I think of my 5 children, their spouses and my 11 grandchildren, what this world is coming to, & what they will have to endure. I cry when I pray for their solid faith to carry them through what the devil is pushing on our country & on our world. I pray that the rapture will come soon.

    1. Katrina, thanks for sharing your thoughts. We do live in interesting times; I often think of what my 4-year old grandson will see in his lifetime.

  7. When I see a person take the blame for something someone else did and somehow nobody else knows about but me because I am the one who did that something. That actually happened to me.

  8. Many a times I am moved to tears by a certain song or phrase. Recently as we rehearsed Christmas music the song “While shepherds watched their flocks”, the men sing a phrase / chord “…and glory shown around”, gets me ever time. Not only the beauty of the harmonized men’s voices but the thought of the Lords glory present at the birth of Jesus. Amazing

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