“Tears are a liquid process of lacrimation to clean and lubricate the eyes. The word lacrimation may also be used in a medical or literary sense to refer to crying. Strong emotions, such as sorrow or elation, may lead to crying.”
— Webster Dictionary
Until last week, my daughter, Paytyn, didn’t have the ability to make tears. She would cry and scream, but all without tears. In fact, apparently it takes about a month after birth for a baby’s tear ducts to form completely so that they can shed actual tears.
Before now, I don’t think I had ever thought about life without tears. I just assumed that we were born with that ability right from the beginning. But, when I picked Paytyn up from her crib the other day (she had woken up suddenly and was crying) I noticed what had been absent. Her eyes were wet. I was shocked and asked Tania what was wrong with her. It was then that I learned she was simply learning to make tears.
I had heard her cry many times already. But, now for the first time I was seeing her cry. As I held her in my arms that day, I found myself sad. Sad that life eventually had to know tears. Sad that life, which started without even the ability to truly cry, would eventually know so much.
As I held Paytyn, I realized that she would cry many tears in her life. Over parents that just don’t understand. Over skinned knees and pinched fingers. Over cruel comments. Over broken promises. Over relationships with boys and friends and even God.
And how sad that one day she went to sleep without the ability to cry, and woke up (maybe from a nightmare) crying never to stop.
Did you know we cry for several reasons. Basal tears keep our eyes lubricated and functioning properly. Reflex tears are the ones we shed to clear our eyes of a sudden burst of dust or onion vapors. And then there are crying or weeping tears (the kind I saw on Paytyn) that are born of emotional stress, sadness or even gladness.
In fact, crying, emotional tears are so different from the other two that their chemical makeup is not even the same as the other two. There is an entirely different recipe for these tears that we know as crying.
I have cried many tears so far in life. And as I think back on those moments, it make me sad to think that Paytyn will also grow up and know this particular recipe of tears and sadness. No one it seems is immune from tears. Not even God.
John 11:35 says that when Jesus came and found that his close friend had died, he knew the tears of sadness.
In Matthew 23, Jesus goes to a hill and looks and laments over Jerusalem, the city he loves. And it is difficult to read his words written there without seeing the tears of the God who looks on.
In Luke 22, on the night before Jesus is killed, it is recorded that he prayed so hard his sweat fell to the ground like blood. One has wonder what other moisture fell from his eyes in those darkest moments.
In fact, many stories in the Bible are easily read with the perspective of a God who weeps over the dilemma and plight of mankind.
And so, Jesus was born like Paytyn. And somewhere at about month one, he succumbed to the same humanity as she. And he cried. Maybe nothing is more human. Maybe nothing identifies with the human condition more than a God that would enter a world of tears and shed his own.
So, as I held Paytyn that day, I softly brushed her tears away from her face, knowing that I would do this many times in her life. Knowing, I suppose, that she may do the same for me. But as I did I was reminded of this simple verse that is a promise for a day when finally the tears will cease.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
I suppose Paytyn will cry many tears in this life to come. And I will wipe away as many as I see. But, eventually, when time is done, One who is greater than I will come and he will pick her up and hold her and wipe away her tears forever.
The tears will be many. But they are numbered.