What My Dad Taught Me About Tears
Most men can go back and recall the different things their fathers taught them, for instance, how to play catch, how to shave, or perhaps even cheesy pick-up lines for the girls at the sandbox…. But my Dad taught me something for which I am incredibly grateful, and I doubt I have ever even thanked him for it. He taught me how to cry well.
This might sound a bit odd after I tell you that my Dad has dedicated the majority of his life to protecting the innocent as a law enforcement officer. He is also the guy who taught me to love martial arts, world history, and cowboy western movies.
Yet this tough guy taught me the valuable lesson of how to cry… well.
On the tear spectrum, there are many varieties of tear flowing, from the classic “I didn’t get my way” tantrum tears to the always valid “heartbroken over great injustice” sniffles. Because the spectrum of tears varies person to person, I think it is important to tell you that my Dad only cries over a few certain things:
1) Dad moments through media. This includes epic cinematic moments of manliness and father/son-ness, such as a moment when a hero gives his life for his family or a profound ending to a sports movie (Miracle). This also includes short subject films, such as incredibly emotional commercials by the US Army where a Dad and son are having a deep conversation while working on their Mustang… Most definitely going to produce some Dad tears from my padre. He taught me there are truths displayed through story that are transcendent and SHOULD evoke emotion and action.
2) Moments of grieving, such as great personal loss. My Dad has never been afraid to feel emotions. Over the years, we have had family members who meant a great deal to us die, and I am so grateful that some of my earliest memories were of my Dad and Mom sitting together, holding hands on the couch, crying so loud over the loss of a loved one that it woke me up. It taught me to not hold in grieving, but to consider it a blessing to have cared about someone so deeply, and instead lean into the tears and feel each one roll down my cheeks.
3) Moments so funny, only tears will do. I remember seeing one comedy with my parents called Kung Pow. One scene’s plot twist was so unexpected and hilarious my Dad nearly fell out of his seat and into the aisle. He was in tears he was chuckling so hard. It taught me that powerful moments can also be the funniest.
Solomon wrote, “[There is] a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). While my Dad never taught me to dance, he definitely taught me to weep for justice, to laugh to the point of tears, and when we are called to mourn to mourn like nobody’s business.
Thanks to my Dad I am now the biggest baby around, crying anytime an epic cause of injustice like child trafficking comes around, or when I am overcome by the power of worshipping Jesus, or simply when I am watching the new Disney film Inside Out.
This was a gift my Dad never handed to me and one he never instructed me on, but he has always lived it for me and I am so grateful that He did.
Happy Father’s Day Dad, and thank you for showing me The Way.