Can you cry?

This may sound like a strange question. However, in my ministry experiences with brokenhearted people, several of them were completely unable to cry. When they contacted me for help, their emotions had been shut down for years as the result of traumatic situations that had happened in their lives!

If this describes you, you need to know that God created our brains in a way to shut down our emotions when trauma becomes so intense that we cannot handle the pain. The way our brains deal with that overwhelming trauma often looks like we are numb—because we are—we are not responding emotionally to the trauma. This is for our own benefit and protection. Our response to trauma can also look like confusion. The bottom line is that God created our brains to operate this way when we are confronted with tremendous emotional pain and trauma. As a result, we can continue to function at some level in spite of horrific and intense trauma in our lives.

After returning from the Healing the Brokenhearted (HBH) Ministry training seminar that I attended in August 2008, I asked my husband to help me as I ministered to myself. At the seminar, I became aware that there were some deep issues of pain and trauma that the Lord wanted to heal in me. He wanted that emotional pain and trauma released from my heart and from my spirit. The day after I returned from the seminar, the Lord showed me that it was time. So, I asked my husband to help me, which he did. As I proceeded through the HBH process that I had learned, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of emotional pain that was released as we prayed. The tears and the emotional pain that came out from very deep within me were unexpected and eye-opening. I cried buckets of tears! I had no idea that I was carrying that amount of emotional pain. I had no idea that someone could function while carrying that amount of emotional pain. However, as I said above, God has created us with the ability—our brains have the ability—to suppress the pain so that we can function to whatever degree. Once my prayer session was over and I had released an enormous amount of pain, I realized that if I could be walking around and functioning, doing my daily tasks, carrying that amount of pain, so could many, many other people.

Over the years as I have ministered to others in individual prayer sessions, during seminars, and during workshops, I have seen that level of pain released dozens and dozens of times. There was one woman—and this is not uncommon—who had been sexually abused as a child by a family member. As I ministered to her during a live demonstration at an HBH informational seminar years ago, a similar amount of deeply suppressed emotional pain came out of this woman. Another time, a different volunteer for the live demonstration at a seminar was literally shaking as she was crying and releasing the pain that had been stuffed for decades. She began shaking and trembling uncontrollably as it came up. I prayed and asked Jesus to release the pain and fill them both with peace. He did just that and they were very grateful to be free from that emotional pain.

One of the other women to whom I ministered HBH, came to a prayer session immediately after signing her divorce paperwork at the courthouse. She was not aware that was going to happen that day. The original plan was to work on some financial support details until the divorce was finalized at a later date. However, this dear lady was completely blindsided when the attorneys announced the divorce would be final after that hearing. When she came to her appointment, all she could do was cry. That was the best thing I could let her do during that session, and she cried and cried and cried. As she did, I prayed and asked Jesus to release the pain and fill her with peace. I set my plan for that session aside and followed the Lord’s plan to minister to this extremely heartbroken woman. She received what she needed at that session—love and compassion for her hurting heart, mind and spirit.

The beautiful thing that I have observed after ministering to women who were totally shut down emotionally was that after Jesus released an amount of the pain and trauma that they were carrying, they were finally able to cry. The tears flowed. I have often told ministry recipients that if they feel like crying, let yourself do it, if you can, because tears are healing. Releasing that pain is one step to healing and freedom. We were never meant to hold the emotional pain and trauma our entire lives. Eventually it either explodes out of us, or it makes us so physically sick that we cannot function at the level that we are supposed to be living.

Occasionally people have said to me, “All I do is cry when pain surfaces between sessions.” I tell them that is good because being able to cry is an absolute gift from God. It is being able to feel those emotions and release that pain. I encourage them to ask Jesus to release that pain—to take that pain, to remove it from their hearts, to remove it from their minds and spirits, to heal those places where that pain was—as they cry. More than a few people have told me that when they do that they feel so much better, they feel relief. I also encourage them to ask the Holy Spirit to fill those voids with His peace.

So many people were raised, especially men, being told, “Don’t cry.” (“Men don’t cry.”) Well, when men go through healing for emotional pain and trauma, they cry. They are able to cry after they have received the healing they need. Men need to cry just as much as women do—sometimes more so. If that describes you and you are a man who has been told all your life, “Men don’t cry. Stop crying. Don’t cry,” I would encourage you to seek help, because most men may not cry, but the painful emotions come out in some other way. Normally, men experience anger when emotional pain and trauma come up. There are a lot of good reasons for anger to be attached to pain and trauma, but when anger erupts, it does not release the pain and trauma. Anger that is attached to emotional pain and trauma is usually released as the pain and trauma are released in a prayer session, not the other way around. (Many people tell us that we should not be angry, especially if you are a Christian. You should not get angry. Love everyone. However, expressing anger is not always sin. There is righteous anger and that is what is normally attached to emotional pain and trauma. I will address the issue of anger in more detail in a future article.) We all need to be able to cry! 

It is amazing how God created our brains, our hearts, our minds, and our spirits. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)! I have been in awe of what I have seen the Lord Jesus Christ do as I have ministered over the years. I have been in awe of how our Most High God is able to heal even the deepest pain, even the deepest hurts and damage from horrific trauma. I have been so blessed to take part in the healing of the brokenhearted.

If you cannot cry, I would encourage you today to understand several things. You are carrying a level of pain that, if it is not dealt with, one day will come out. It will erupt out of you like a volcano. You need to deal with that pain before that happens. That emotional pain and trauma has caused your brain to shut down your ability to cry. One way or the other, whether it is physical illness or an emotional outburst coming from deep within you, the pain and trauma will eventually be triggered. When that suppressed pain gets triggered, it is not pretty. The emotional pain and trauma can cause your whole being—mind, body, heart, and spirit—to be in a state of dis-ease. It has caused you to be less than what God created you to be. You can get to the place where God wants you to be—whole and healed—able to deal with future pain and trauma in a healthy way. You can be free from that emotional pain and trauma!

I would encourage you to, number one, have hope, and number two, do not pretend that there is nothing wrong.

I would encourage you to pursue healing for your heart.

Kathy Shelton