*disclaimer: i don’t think you’re a horrible human if you don’t cry often. we all express ourselves differently. (:
I cry in movies.
It’s simply reality. Happy movies, inspirational movies, sad movies: doesn’t matter. Look over at me and you’re likely going to catch some tears spilling over. The first time I remember monumentally crying in a movie was probably “Return to Me.” The main character, a humble man known as Bob, loses the love of his life. *insert crying here.* His dog can’t even get over it. *insert bawling here* He finally risks love again. *happy tears now* PLOT TWIST. *almost fetal* Happy ending. *fetal position* Once, back in the tween years, I had the house to myself and I decided to watch “A Walk to Remember.” Worst decision I made that year, I think, aside from my obsession with Jump 5. My sister Molly and her friend Michelle found me drowning in tears a few hours later. I stumbled upon my other sister, Emma, watching “The Last Song” last year (I think we can all agree Nicholas Sparks knows how to tear jerk) and I sat down for maybe five minutes and I was blubbering within three of them. You get the point.
*disclaimer: I don’t only cry in movies, I am not that shallow, I assure you. I cry when others cry, I cry during the news, I cry when I think about things like world hunger or genocide, you see what I’m sayin’? Glad we have that resolved.
Tonight I went and saw “The Fault in Our Stars.” A dear friend, Ellen, gave the book to me this past Christmas. I woke up to a text telling me it was waiting on my door step and there it was, sitting with Hilda, our little rag doll who waits on a bench through all kinds of weather. At that point, I worked in a book store. (Best. Job. Ever.) I knew *of* TFIOS because I had sold about 8 million copies of it in the last 4 months, but for some reason, I just hadn’t ever picked it up. I gave Ellen “Divergent” because we had both been similarly befuddled that we hadn’t read one another’s most recent literary love. I finished it in a day. I was wrecked. I have never been so unprepared for all the emotions I encountered throughout those 336 pages. Ya, you can mock me when I cry in a movie, but you’ve never seen me cry through a book. There are some books that I can reread exactly two sentences of and tear up, and I’ll be weeping by the end of the chapter. (Unfortunately, crying really slows down reading comprehension, so it make the sad sections last even longer.)
So anyway, I went into this movie with feels of steel, my friends. I was determined to cry as little as possible, and I did. Heck, I cried more during “Frozen” (Do you want to build a snowman? Thanks Disney. I was practically dehydrated by the end of that song.) than I did this movie, and honestly, when I walked out, I felt cheated.
I get made fun of a lot for how hard I cry at times. My dad found me shortly after a beloved character had tragically died – he walked into my room and literally laughed out loud before I kicked him out of my room. That’s a huge contributing factor to why I was resolved to dam up the floodgates for TFIOS – I didn’t want to “embarrass” myself.
“So why did you feel cheated tonight, Maggie?”
Oh I’m so glad you asked.
I’m so.. practical. I’m realistic, and I have all my ducks in a row (most of the time).. And I realized tonight how much I just appreciate the fact that sometimes I get to just respond to the pulchritude of human emotions. Crying helps me know that I’m still here. That I can still feel deeply. That I see the people and the beauty and life around me, just as much as I can feel the pain and suffering.
The definition of “compassion” is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another
who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
(Thank you dictionary.com) That’s all fine and well, but I think compassion is more than that; I think it’s when you choose to suffer alongside another human. Most of the time, pain takes us by surprise and we have this unbelievable capacity to respond to it, but ultimately, we will choose whether to be vulnerable and respond. When we do, we cry, we hit things, we try and grapple with a God who could let this happen. As John Green would say: “Pain demands to be felt.” Sometimes there isn’t anything we can do. We can’t heal people, no matter how desperately we wish we could. We can’t bring back the dead or eradicate poverty over night. Our world is so incredibly screwed, and we can’t fix it. How spectacularly helpless does that make you feel?
We possess “a strong desire to alleviate the suffering” of others. It’s easy to wish things were better for someone, or even ourselves. It’s hard to walk alongside someone else in their suffering. It’s an active choice we make. Occasionally it’s an entire shift in lifestyle. It could mean hospital visits and dedication to prayer, it may mean helping someone with their financial situation or housing someone in need, it could be holding them in their grief, saying something encouraging or not saying anything at all.
Ephesians 4:30 tells us it’s possible to grieve the Holy Spirit, and since we are created in God’s image, our grief, our emotions are a reflection of Him.
I don’t want to be embarrassed by the fact that I cry over life, by the virtue and the aching that it includes. I don’t want to cheapen the reflection within me or hold back tears because I want to be compassionate. I want people to know that I will experience and endure life with them. I will celebrate your life just as I will suffer with you as you live it. I will choose compassion because He who loves me is compassionate.
One of my favourite scriptures in the entire Bible is Romans 8, especially verse 26:
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
I have been so blessed and fortunate in my life that I can count on one hand how many times I have relied on the Spirit to intercede on my behalf, but I take great comfort in the fact that he can and will groan for me in my agony. He doesn’t form coherent sentences or write a paragraph listing my prayer requests, he wordlessly groans.. I know that isn’t a very obvious verse about compassion, but to me, the fact that he feels my pain in all its depth, the fact that he, in all his infinite wisdom, is entirely capable of putting words to my pain.. and yet he bears it with me and expresses it with wordless groans instead? That is compassion, to me. He, in those moments, comes alongside me and suffers with me.
He is compassionate and so I will choose compassion also.