The Gift of Weeping

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by Bonnie

This is the sixth in a series by our writers and guests regarding spiritual gifts. We hope you enjoy our take on giving and receiving spiritually this Christmas season.

weepingI turned from the computer news feeds, heavy with the nausea that has plagued me all day, and fled to my book. Surely, wrapped in my favorite soft blanket I would find solace in the depiction of a God who weeps with us. The past seven days has seen one of the most dramatic roller coasters of my life, with a crisis of faith that exposed the raw loneliness of my childhood, followed by an extended fast in search of the God who talked to Jared’s brother, and a miracle that was so specific that my soul has settled, healed in profound ways. Perhaps I will tell that story one day, but today, exhausted from the day and the week, I fled back to these poetic pages to remember that this God I love is truly engaged with humanity.

Taught of highest things by the weeping God, Enoch becomes the weeping prophet. His experience of the love that is indiscriminate in its reach and vulnerable in its consequences takes him to the heart of the divine nature. … Enoch’s encounter with God, his vicarious experience of infinite love, serves as a template for the path to heaven he — and all of us — hope to follow. That this path has as its end a communal heaven, not a solitary salvation, is clear by the vision’s end.

In the midst of Enoch’s pain, God commands him to “Lift up your heart, and be glad; and look.” Only then does he see “the day of the coming of the Son of Man.” Recognizing in Christ’s advent the greatest work of healing and redemption, “his soul rejoiced.”

At the last day, the ultimate consolation, and the shape of heaven, are revealed. (p.105-6, emphasis added)

Terryl and Fiona Givens go on to describe the joyous meeting of heavenly beings as they descend to meet heavenly beings still living on the earth, and “the immense distance between the spiritual and the mundane collapses.” Heaven is familiar. Indeed, weeping, which has endured for the night, flees like shadows in the face of the inevitable morning. It is joy to which we will ultimately turn our tear-worn but hopeful faces.

In the meantime, however, we weep. And so does God.

Jacob, at bycommonconsent.org, has written with visceral emotion about this weeping we do as humans willing to be bound together. Sweeping us along with Ivan Karamazov and Dostoevsky, we say with him: “If this is heaven, this grinding grief, here is our ticket back — we don’t want to go there anymore.”

With the Givenses, however, we acknowledge that a ray of hope beckons.

A modern revelation, speaking of spiritual gifts, notes that while to some it is given to know the core truth of Christ and His mission, to others it is given the means to persevere in the absence of certainty. (p.122)

We take “Peter’s tentative steps across the water” in faith, bearing this gift — the gift of God’s own nature — to weep.

weeping 2

Image credit: mugley and BFS Man

About Bonnie

Living life determined to skid sideways into the grave and say, "MAN, what a ride!"

7 Responses to The Gift of Weeping

  1. Emily says:

    The first time I recall hearing about the gift of weeping was from Marvin J. Ashton: “Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.” I was surprised to hear that weeping was a gift because I surely had it. It was something I’m pretty sure I inherited from my dad. Once I realized it was a gift, though, I realized it wasn’t such a bad thing and have been glad that I’ve been able to easily mourn with those who mourn.

    • Bonnie says:

      I remember that talk, where I was sitting, how I felt! He was one of my favorites, and it also struck me that I had been given that gift. I’d never considered my embarrassing faucets a gift. While I now think it’s more than tears, I am glad tears signaled the capacity. I miss him.

      • I’m going to have to share that quote from Elder Ashton with my husband! He HATES when he weeps in public, or his emotions show so easily when bearing his testimony or speaking. I keep reminding him it is okay. My husband is much like Pres. Eyring when he speaks. He is so tender hearted. Maybe knowing it is a gift will help.

  2. Curtis DeGraw says:

    I love the idea that “divine power” means something completely different than has been understood throughout much of our history.

    D&C 121 comes to mind immediately – and the evolution of theological understanding that I see in it relative to God’s interaction with his suffering children means a lot to me. At the risk of sounding flippant to some, in D&C 121 I see Joseph begging God to step in and stop the actions of his children and God replying:

    “That’s not how I roll. I suffer and weep for my children, and I do what I can for them, but, ultimately, they are going to have to accept me and, in doing so, act toward their spiritual siblings like I do in these situations. They must be/become the gods they were created to be. They need to stop blaming and waiting for me to act and start acting as agents unto themselves.”

    A God became one of us and suffered with us, so He can know how to succor us. There is real power in that theology.

    • Bonnie says:

      There IS real power in that theology. We access it when we are willing to do our part in the relationship and communication that can come with it. I am continually grateful for a God who doesn’t rush in to fix things during my probationary experience. That he is aware, offers guidance, and lets me try makes me love him fiercely.

  3. Templegoer says:

    I miss my tears. My children’s suffering leaves me distraught, there seems no relief. It is easier for us all to give up hope. We cease to ask for blessings,they seem to have often offered false comfort-not doing so becomes a strategy to hang on to what shreds remain of our faith. I have crushed my capacity to weep, I no longer have the privilege of self pity in the face of their suffering.

    But I draw close to those who have gone before us, whose tears were wept dry by yet further grief. Often they were only left with contempt for those who were able to retain access to their tears, their own hearts turned to stone. I understand now.

    I admire the wonderful souls I have met who are full of the grace that enables them to weep with those who weep without contempt,having drunk from the bitter cup. They are few and far between. It is so hard to sit helpless with our children’s suffering. If my tears come back I fear they will break me. I seek that divine power.

    It is a comfort to my soul to know that God weeps for my little ones, that I know that He chose to heal His children through His Son, both physically and spiritually. When faced with human suffering. Our Saviour did not only preach the salvation of the soul, but healed the sickness of the flesh.

    • Bonnie says:

      I sense more “wept dry” than a “heart turned to stone” in your comments, templegoer. It is a hard place to be, a wilderness of difficult proportion, and I’ve been there. My own personal metaphor during that time was a ball of string wound so tight that I couldn’t imagine unwinding it because there was nothing there. All I was was my stress – unwind that and there was nothing of substance to me. I began unwinding anyway. There *was* something underneath. One day your tears will return because I don’t think a gift dies. When they do, I do not think they will consume you. My heart goes out to you in your worries. The atonement does lead to all sorts of healings.

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