I am a sympathetic crier; if I see someone crying, or am talking with someone who is crying, or watching a scene in a movie and the character is crying, I tend to get emotional with them and start crying. I even cried in the movie UP when the wife died and he got all sad and heartbroken (yes, it’s an animation but it was romantic and lovely and he was lonely without her!). I get even more sad and emotional when I see someone crying in public, because crying in public is not something that most people set out to do. I hate crying in public. I really hate it. And the reason I hate it is because I’m an ugly crier; my whole body shakes and I sob and my face gets blotchy and I blubber everywhere. Trust me, it’s not pretty, and I try to protect people from that as much as possible. But there have been time when I have cried in public while out having a deep and meaningful with one of my friends. There have been times when I’ve cried because I was reading something and it triggered something in me and I start bawling. Attractive it’s not, but sometimes, the situation and your emotions get the better of you and you can’t help it.
I witnessed that a few nights ago while out at a cafe with a friend. When I sat down, I saw a table of 3 people seated a few tables away and from the moment I sat down, they were deep in discussion. They were an older group, probably in their early fifties, and it was 2 women and a man. They spoke quietly throughout, often sitting in silence. One of the women seemed to be doing most of the talking and as the conversation went on, it started to look like the other two (who were a couple) were counselling her. They were in my direct line of sight, so even when I wasn’t looking straight at them, I could still see them in my peripheral vision. They sat huddled together for a while and after about an hour, the lady doing most of the talking started to cry quietly while she spoke. I don’t know why she was crying, obviously, but my heart broke for her because she just couldn’t stop crying. Every so often the other lady would reach over and pull her into a hug, but the tears never stopped. The lady would continue to cry, wiping her eyes and nose as she spoke. I just wanted to walk over there and give her a hug. The tears and the way her whole body was hunched over reflected the amount of emotional pain she was in.
A little while before they left, I looked up and saw the three of them with their heads bowed and realised the man was praying. The cafe was fairly empty, so while I couldn’t hear what he was saying, I heard bits and pieces of him praying over them. Once they finished praying, the lady seemed more at peace and after a few more words, they got up, hugged each other and parted ways, the couple going in one direction and the crying lady in the other. But for some reason, they stayed on my mind the whole night. I said a prayer for the lady to feel comforted and be at peace. Even while I was driving home, I kept seeing them in my mind; seeing the lady hunched over crying, then being comforted by hugs and prayer. Eventually the image of them was replaced with other images of myself being comforted by friends while in tears, or images of my comforting friends while they poured out their hearts and cried their eyes out. It’s something that, if we all stop and reflect on, we’ve all gone through.
I remember once, years ago, crying in a cafe while I poured out my heart to my friend and confessed something stupid I had done. I had been so overwhelmed that I just burst into tears, forgetting I was in public. And to make matters worse, I was at a cafe that I frequented often, so the staff were looking at me trying to work out why I was bawling like a 3 month old baby desperate for a feed. But in that moment, my emotions overtook me and I just had to deal with it. It was just unfortunate that ‘dealing with it’ took the form of me sitting in a cafe with my ugly crying face slobbering all over my best friend. I’ve had moments since then when I have cried in public, but it’s been more controlled and a little more Hollywood style; tear rolls down the face while I look the other away and give a very lady-like sniffle, wipe my eyes and move on (that’s my version of it, anyway. Not sure if my friends would describe it that way). But the saving grace in all those moments has been my friends. Just like the couple that sat with the lady while she cried and focused only on her, whenever I have had one of my moments, my friends have walked through it with me. Even the friends that are uncomfortable with crying put their discomfort aside. And I do the same with them because it’s what we do. That’s what makes those public meltdown moments bearable; having people with you that will stand with you in the emotional and awkward moments. Having people who will put aside their discomfort and just hold your hand, or rub your back, or just sit in silence while you deal.
Life happens and things hurt and sometimes you can’t control when the emotional tidal wave comes in. For me, not only does Jesus give me the peace I need to get through those moments, He surrounds me with people who love me and hold me up. I pray that you have the right people around you to help keep you afloat, people who will help you to shore. If you surround yourself with the right people, people that will walk into deep waters with you, those moments of meltdown will be a little easier. And those embarrassing public moments will be less embarrassing because you won’t be alone.