I grew up with three brothers. No sisters. I was a girl, no doubt, but I was a tough kid. Cowboys and Indians, dirt piles and tree climbing, pigtails and pink ribbons. I cried when I was angry or bleeding.
I was thirteen when I found out about women and tears. My first ladies meeting. Mama said I was old enough, so holding my pink Bible and feeling nervous I walked with her to the church beside the palm trees.
Mama pulled out chocolate and a box of Kleenex.
And I found out why.
It seemed that every woman who talked cried. I’m sure my eyes were as big as my face. Who knew that women were like this? I mean, the things they shared were hard things, to be sure, but all these tears?
By the time I was in my twenties, I was used to it. Tears came with groups of women. Not my tears, usually. But it was okay. I had faced hard things in life. I got it. I cared. I loved. I just didn’t quite understand the constant drips of salt water.
Then I got married and faced my first really hard thing. The word that I had feared since my doctor’s appointment when I was nineteen and having medical problems. Infertility. The word that spoke deeper words. I might never give my husband a child. I may never be called Mama. I might never, ever, hold my own baby.
I tasted a lot of tears that first year. Bitter, deep tears. And they left stains.
Not too long ago I sat in a group of women. A gathering of ladies to talk about the book One Thousand Gifts. I sat curled on the love seat with my crocheting in my lap, balancing my Bible, journal and book on the armrest beside me.
We talked. Laughed. Took turns reading our favorite passages. Challenged each other to live eucharisteo. And somewhere, in the middle of the talk on giving thanks, the hard things cropped up.
And tears started.
I understood. I had my own tear stains.
They were hard things. Really hard things. Unbelieving husbands. Hysterectomies. Accusations. Miscarriages. And the last one. “It’s a tumor,” she whispered, “in her lung.” And tears stained her cheeks. Who can ever say goodbye to a mother?
Then another voice spoke, “Jesus, Jesus…” The prayers started. Hands lifted. Women calling out to God from all corners of the room.
I wasn’t thinking of me, not right then; but the prayer came anyway from somewhere on my right. “Lord, you said we have not because we ask not- so I’m asking that those who have been unable will bear a child…” And my name is spoken. And my tears run paths down my cheeks.
Someone handed me a box of Kleenex.
Women cry because they feel. Deeply. There are stains and scars and sorrows that spill out.
And I find my thanks, my moment of eucharisteo, my taste of redemption, right there:
That I serve a God who hears when women cry.