What Makes You Cry

When was the last time you had a proper cry?
If that sentence made you a little uncomfortable, you will be even more uncomfortable when I tell you that I once stood up in front of 200 people and cried so much I couldn’t speak. My family and I had the privilege of sharing with our church about our November 2016 trip to Orphanage Emanuel in Guiamaca, Honduras and I wept my way through half of my speaking time.
What Makes You Cry?
When it comes to talking about the orphanage, it is easy for me to get choked up. This was trip five for our family and trip six for me. On four of the six trips, I have been asked to give a message at the orphanage’s church during the Sunday service. Yesterday was our family’s second time to share with our own church about a Honduras trip. On each of those occasions, it has happened.
As the executive director of Y Camp Greenville, I gave the Easter Sunrise Service message four of my five years. On two of those occasions, it happened. As a speaker, I would prefer it not happen. The vast majority of the time it does not happen, but in these instances and a few others, I have begun to cry in the middle of a message. My family is quite familiar with this “phenomena”. Yesterday my youngest son and my wife were quietly chuckling when it happened.
As a strategist, I believe in intentionality and maintaining control of those things we should control. Emotions would fall into that category. What can make emotional crying awkward is that it is disruptive. It changes the hormone level and creates vulnerability.
Crying has a preservation nature. Like laughing, it is much easier to prevent than to stop once it has started. Both laughing and crying increase empathy between people.
I have come to accept that there may be a benefit for others when it occurs. The first time it took place was while I was speaking at our church in North Carolina, probably the year 2001. Afterwards, I was telling an older gentleman how embarrassed I was. His take was that people are too cut off from their emotions and needed the encouragement to reconnect.
But, our tears can also increase our awareness about our own life purpose. I am talking about the movement part of being moved to tears. Perhaps, it is revealing something about our soul.
Try this. Make a quick list of the last 5 times you have cried.
Here is my list, besides the times I have mentioned.
  1. Listening to the playback of one particular recording for the Life Leaders GPS.
  2. While dreaming about my parents. I’m not sure why but I did not cry at either of their funerals. In fact, I didn’t have an honest cry about my dad dying until after my mom died. Shortly after my mom passed, I had a dream that I got to sit and talk with my dad. In the dream, I gave him a hug and I could smell his scent. The intimacy and familiarity of that moment opened the floodgates and I woke up sobbing uncontrollably.
  3. The first time that I heard each of my boys’ hearts beat on the baby monitor and right after they were born.
  4. On three different occasions during worship time in a church service.

What do the instances you remember tell you about what moves you? You may find a common theme in these times that can reveal something about who you are. In the Passion Time Line lesson of the Life Leaders GPS, we take an in-depth look at what passions have emerged in our life and how our passions inform our purpose.

Anyone can make a lot of noise, and many do, but finding fulfillment in life and expressing your unique individuality in a way that builds a legacy, is a horse of a different color. Knowing what makes us cry is a key piece of the passion puzzle.

As Nelson Mandela said,
“There is no passion to be found playing small–in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
Don’t settle. Keep moving and keep being moved.


Rick Burris

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