Chapter 18: Cry When You Need To

Cry When You Need To

We shouldn’t trust our feelings. They are tricky. They are influenced by a variety of supervisors. They might be warning us or protecting us, or they might be luring us to take incorrect actions.

So, while we should not be controlled by our feelings, neither should we pretend they aren’t there. The next few chapters will help us comprehend appropriate ways to find balance in knowing how we feel, gaining an under- standing of why we feel that way, and what would be the best action plan to respond to those feelings.

We shouldn’t trust them. But let’s give them space.

Let’s begin with one emotion many cultures shun. Let’s grab a few tissues and prepare to shed a few tears.

“I’m sorry.” Those are words I often hear when offering pastoral care to someone. They are not admitting regret for improper behavior. They are apologizing for crying.

Isn’t it sad that we fail to learn the importance of facing sadness? Isn’t it gloomy that we often miss the healing of shedding tears?
I recently handed someone a Kleenex. “I don’t need that,” he said.

He began telling me his story. Initially, he kept the tissue at a distance. The rehearsed narrative stayed on level ground. It included hurt and disappointment, but it didn’t go into the rough terrain. He hoped to stay on the surface. He hoped to feel a little better after a light chat, while never plunging deep and never daring to shed tears.

He needed more, though. He needed a release. He needed to grieve.

I asked a specific question related to a time, a place, a conversation. He said, “I don’t know.”

I didn’t say anything then.

He didn’t say anything for a moment.

For a few moments.

I gently asked a similar question, offering a calm tone and a caring heart. He started to respond but didn’t. He started to respond but couldn’t.

He leaned his large arm toward his right knee where he had locked away the tissue. He grabbed it and finally looked directly at me. He said, “I might need this thing after all.”

He did. He needed that thing after all. Not the tissue, really. He needed to do that thing we often resist doing. He needed to cry. And he did.

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  1. What movie caused you to cry? What was the scene?
  2. What three experiences in your life bring deep sadness as you remember them? Have you cried about those experiences?
  3. When is the last time you cried? What was it about?
  4. How can you find a healthy balance of crying when you should while refusing to stay forever in that same unbalanced place?


Each chapter is a gem, full of insight into human behavior, poignant stories, and practical advice. He doesn’t write as someone removed from hardship, but as a person who knows the depths of God’s grace and the assurance of God’s unfailing love. Maxwell is a wise sage and a companion brother. You can trust that he will not lead you wrong.

Cheryl Bridges-Johns

Senior Professor of Discipleship & Christian Formation, Pentecostal Theological Seminary