96 Tears

Photo by Rose-Lynn Fisher Photo by Rose-Lynn Fisher

Most everyone who is 50+ is familiar with the song by the same name as this blog post. In fact, you’re most likely singing it now that I’ve mentioned it–you’re welcome! 🙂 But did you know that whatever circumstances signal our tears also cause those tears to look differently under a microscope? I recently read a fascinating article that not only described these differences in full detail, but also provided photographs of the different types of tears to highlight how different they look.

Take the photograph at the top of this post; they are basal tears–those shed as a reflex to pain or atmospheric irritants. They actually look like rain falling and forming a river, don’t they?

Here’s another one:

Photo by Rose-Lynn Fisher Photo by Rose-Lynn Fisher

Any idea what caused these types of tears? It is the tears of change–something I’ve been shedding quite a bit these days. Something Tom tries to understand, but often struggles to do so. The same changes have affected him, but he doesn’t cry nearly as much as I do. Which brings me to my next point…

Another fascinating aspect of this research is how different men and women are in regards to shedding tears. Of course, everyone knows the differences, but what you may not realize is why.

One substance being studied in connection with crying is the hormone prolactin, levels of which increase in women during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, as well as when we’re under stress. We average up to 60 percent more prolactin in our bodies than men. William Frey, Ph.D., biochemist and author of Crying: The Mystery of Tears, theorizes that prolactin lowers women’s emotional bar by stimulating the endocrine system, which makes us more prone to tears.

And we do cry more — on average, 64 times a year, compared with 17 times for men. We cry when we’re sad or frustrated or angry, whereas men cry at major losses, like death; when they get frustrated, they just get mad. Ask a man the last time he cried in front of someone else and chances are he’ll have a hard time remembering. A woman won’t.

But a funny thing happens as we reach midlife. Women cry less and get angry more — just as our levels of female hormones drop off, leaving a higher concentration of the male hormone testosterone. In men, a decline in testosterone makes for increased impact from their female hormones. And guess what? As guys get older, they get angry less — and cry more. (source: How Crying Works, by Alia Hoyt)

Isn’t that amazing? Of course this research bypasses the spiritual aspect of our tears, which we know is the most important part of who we are. God created us human, and every detail of our being glorifies Him–even our tears.

“You have kept count of my tossings,
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?” – Psalm 56:8 ESV

And the best of news is that He keeps track of every tear we’ve ever shed. Whatever you’re facing today, know that God has made your tears to help you through it. And they are not wasted tears. He counts them and marvels at them, writing them in His book. How often do we pour our hearts out to God in prayer for help in a desperate situation? Maybe you’re doing this quite regularly and are being tempted to think it’s of no account. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Our tears are accomplishing in us exactly what God wants them to accomplish. Give Him your concerns, your tears. Trust that He hears us when we pray.

I think of Mary Magdelene who took a vial of very expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus’ feet, wiping them with her tears. What she was doing was an act of thanksgiving and surrender to the One who had loved her most. Do you see your tears as an act of surrender, a sacrifice of praise to Him who has ordained every step? I have recently, and it has made all the difference in the changes I’m facing. What were tears of grief… (Doesn’t this look like something broken?)

Photo by Rose-Lynn Fisher Photo by Rose-Lynn Fisher

…have turned to tears of joy. (Doesn’t this look like a fireworks display?)

The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.” Psalm 126:3 ESV

Photo by Rose-Lynn Fisher Photo by Rose-Lynn Fisher

A Surprise That Made Me Cry

Photo Credit: Cool Insights blog

Photo Credit: Cool Insights blog

Today I planned to get started on the outline for the sequel to Through The Eyes Of Grace. It’s been hard to think about starting because my Mom is no longer here for me to ask questions. My husband gave me good advice to go into the day prepared to keep a guard on my emotions. He knows this isn’t easy for me, but preparing myself through prayer ahead of time usually provides the will-power to fight being overcome with emotions. I listened to his advice and was doing well until I came up to something I needed to know. Whenever this happened before, I would call Mom, ask the question, get the answer and get right back to my research.

Ugh!

I managed to avoid the tears by talking to myself and keeping my focus on what I needed to do, not on how I was feeling. I had an idea to find the answer to my question;  I would sign onto my Ancestry.com account where I had set up our family tree years ago with my Mom when we were planning a huge family reunion. I was proud of myself for coming up with such a practical solution to what could have been an emotional meltdown.

I spoke too soon. Ugh, again!

Because Mom passed away in December, I hadn’t signed onto Ancestry.com since before then. I wasn’t prepared to see what was waiting for me; Mom was last on the site October 20, 2012, only 7 weeks before she died. She had been working diligently to get me the information she knew I would need for my next book. She had sent me all kinds of updates for me to approve in order to add them to my site. I was overcome with the emotions I had been avoiding. They rushed over me like a flood, but this time they weren’t tears of overwhelming sadness, but tears of gratefulness for a Mom who cared for me and anticipated my need for her help, tears of thankfulness for a God who orchestrated the timing for me to discover this right when I needed it most, and unbelievable humility in realizing how much my God and my Mom love and care for me, even in the smallest of details.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much else done on my book today, but I no longer feel alone in my research. God is my ever-present help in my time of need, and He’s proven that He even cares about the research I’m doing. I am confident He will walk with me down this lonely road and help me do what I wouldn’t be able to do in my own strength. What a God I serve.

When was the last time you sensed God provide for you in ways you never expected or saw coming? How did it affect you? I would love to hear.