Unlike most folks, I get excited when I see the caption 'long post' alert. You get to learn so much about the person doing the posting. Chances are they are about to be transparent, and somehow, reading it acknowledges that you are not alone. As bad as it sounds, it kinda gives you solace.
As I reflected on this month of August, my mind wandered to two posts I had seen that broke my heart. Each in a slightly different way. In one piece, I read of a college student's journey. One so rough that I doubt I'd have the fortitude to see it through. And the other, I watched an old clip of a scholarship recipient’s acceptance speech. His story was so moving that it prompted me to reflect on how much of my high school life was taken for granted and borderline wasted.
Aimlessly scrolling my timeline, I saw a radiant photo of a beautiful young lady regaled in her cap and gown. I didn't know her, but her smile caused me to pause. And there it was, long post alert. I began to read her testimony through her six-year tertiary experience. With each paragraph, my heart sank as she spoke of how she was battling sickle cells the whole time. Thinking back on my autoimmune condition, I could easily empathize. But what added insult to injury was, mid-degree, she encountered one of the worse crises she'd ever experienced. An episode that was so dire that she had to withdraw from classes for a semester. Now, if you know anything about The University of The Bahamas, that in and of itself is enough to make one weep.
Despite her setback, once she recovered, she re-enrolled to complete her studies the following semester. Man, you won't believe it; one more crisis ensued, followed by a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis. Jesus, take the whole car. Against all odds, she still managed to graduate. This story had me washed away in tears. There was no denying this young lady was poised for greatness. Although she was not my Facebook friend, I only happened to read her post because she was tagged by someone I do know whose caption included a dove emoji followed by RIP. #lordsayitaintso
No, I didn't know her, but I cried. I mean sobbing.
I can't recall which of these stories came first, but I also remember viewing the video of a young man who watched his father take his last breath in front of him due to gun violence at twelve. He grew up in a single-parent home in what we deem the heart of the ghetto. Still, he managed to graduate valedictorian in the public school system and secured a 4-year scholarship abroad. In his thank you speech, he stated how his dad always said, "Son, don't be like me!" and he used the memory of those words as his motivation to propel forward.
He, too, was not my Facebook friend, but his graduation photos were in heavy circulation. As a small country, his accomplishments were treated with the same pride we have when an athlete from The Bahamas wins one medal on the international stage. That one medal to us equals, “We won the whole Olympics!” #whatyouthought #wesaidwhatwesaid This young black man, a symbol of excellence, graduated college with a double major and a 4.0 average—can you say Summa cum laude?
A few weeks post-graduation and on the cusp of his internship at a major accounting firm, alongside that graduation image, it also read RIP—gone too soon. My island mourned, and no one could fathom this would be his end or comprehend the why or the how. Again, I cried.
Between the daily news and just scrolling your timeline, let's face it, the sad news can consume you. You can internalize things that have nothing to do with you. You sit there teary-eyed thinking, what's the point? When you're not thinking about that, you're wondering when and if it will ever end. I've never seen and heard more people exhale and utter the words, "I'm tired!"
For clarification, weep and cry has, in many instances, been used interchangeably. Though the more I read, the more I concluded that they could be very different. Weeping is often associated with grief, mourning and overwhelming sadness. It's an internal emotion we tend to express through more than normal tears. I would go as far as to say; that weeping comes from the recesses of one's soul.
On the other hand, crying is a display of a more surface or fleeting emotional reaction. For instance, you can cry angrily (when a situation is out of your control) or with joy (at the birth of a child or a wedding). In these circumstances, most would not use the word weep.
As I did a background check, many of the scripture verses I came across where people wept; I found this commonality; they were experiencing great anguish or extraordinary loss. However, when they cried, it was usually to be heard, rescued, or receive empathy. David’s vivid expressions of crying were like no other writer's. He said: The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17 NIV
However, when it comes to weeping, most verses read with a greater sense of distress: Then Elkanah, her husband, said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat, and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?" 1 Samuel 1:8 NIV You can see from each verse, even if you haven't read the entire chapter, that depending on the issue, one situation can be interpreted as more dire than the other.
At the five-year mark of my being sick, I wept, and I mean profusely. What should have been my prime years were spent halting between being heavily medicated and ignoring the pangs of chronic pain. Next, my golden relationship, my one, imploded, and I wept yet again. Then I lost (not to death) a few of my most valued friendships, and I wept some more. One thing was sure, and two things are certain, weeping that endures for a night ain't 12 hours long, weeping doesn't give you a heads up of its impending arrival, and the 'time to weep' can reoccur, sometimes in rapid succession.
I also realized that weeping is not reserved for the lower class. Yes, the possession of money can have its perks, but it cannot insure you against life's inevitable hardships. Rich people lose loved ones, get depressed, and commit suicide, all while banking figures with two commas. Even Solomon, with all his infinite wisdom (I'm talking straight from the throne room), his riches, fame and power did not preclude him from the time of weeping. So chin up, cupcake, you are not alone.
In the final analysis, I was left to question, "Why then must we weep?" Why is this such a pivotal moment destined in our human existence? Other than processing emotions, believe it or not, it relieves pain and garners the support we need from others. I can't tell you how many funerals I've sat in and cried, never knowing the person, but I was touched by the feeling of someone else's grief, which causes me to give a more sincere word of encouragement.
The thing is if you've never wept, how then will you know if you're experiencing true, unfiltered joy? If you didn't lose, how can you appreciate wins? It's really the whole bases of these seasons Solomon alerts us to. Though one era occurs, it makes you anticipate and enjoy the next.
I suppose the only consolation is that 'this too shall pass.' In the thick of it, it's not always apparent, but remember, 'purpose is usually always on the other side of pain.'