When tears make better sense than words
People Matter was a regular column by Phillip Jensen in Southern Cross, the monthly magazine of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
Jensen, P, T 'When tears make better sense than words'. Southern Cross, February 2001.
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'I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,'
Amy was in tears. Not the brief response to sad or troubling news. But tears that went on, like the tears of a sudden and tragic bereavement. They kept sweeping over her in unexpected waves.
Meeting a friend, she would burst into tears. Walking down the street she would start crying. At work, alone in her room, or at the dinner table with others—anytime, anywhere, she would cry uncontrollably.
It was her third year away from home. She was a bright student, living interstate, making new friends, enjoying the salad days in the university world. A healthy, sporting, fun loving, intelligent young woman with apparently everything to live for and enjoy, she was now walking around campus unable to stop crying.
When Amy first came to university she was met by some Christians who shared their Lord and their lives with her. It was not easy for her to overcome her family's prejudice against Christ, but over a period of some months she came to a life-saving faith in Him. Her Christian friends rejoiced that the Spirit of God was so clearly working in her, bringing about such a change in her life.
Yet now, she could not stop crying. And because her crying was so public, many people were worried about her. Yet she did not want to share her grief because her world had been shattered by news she thought was fairly normal. What was happening to her happened to lots of people. She could not believe it was having such a devastating effect on her.
She had read books and articles on the matter, and they all agreed that it was fairly normal and, at most, a temporary upset to life. Certainly life was supposed to be better now that the whole matter had been settled. But still she cried. The whole of life seemed insecure, altered, unsafe, uncertain.
She was not a child. She had established herself in independent adult society. She was paying for herself at University by part-time work. But Amy felt like curling herself up into a little ball and hiding or running home to Mum for a reassuring hug.
Her home had not always been the happy loving idyllic place of the 1950's TV sitcom, but she would be safe there. Mum and Dad both loved her. She knew her parents were unhappy with each other, but their constant arguments were never violent nor unsettling to her sense of security. But now they told her of their impending divorce. It was not going to affect her much they assured her, because she was an adult and would want their happiness. As always their actions were courteous. This would be one of those ‘civilised’ divorces: no fighting over property, no recriminations, no bitterness. Everybody would be happier. She could visit two happy families, instead of a miserable one.
Strangely, Amy did not see it that way. The comforting words about divorce not hurting adult children brought no comfort at all, only outrage at their insensitive stupidity. The very foundations of her world had been rocked. Try as she may she could not stop crying. It took months for the tears to recede. Will the scar of such violence ever disappear?
Names and identifying details have been changed.