I used to keep a box of kleenex in my office so people had something to stop their tears.
I’m a pastor, so that means people tell me stuff. Once people feel safe enough, they open up about the pain, sin, wounds, and mess in their lives… and the tears come. I used to think the loving thing to do was to hand out kleenex to help wipe away the salty wet. I saw other people do this, so I figured I should to do this. The person who passes the kleenex appears so sensitive, so caring.
Now I think differently. I no longer hand out kleenex. I’ve come to the conclusion that the more appropriate and loving thing to do is to simply let people cry and to do nothing to assist the cleaning up or management of people’s tears.
I’m not against kleenex. But I think kleenex may communicate our discomfort with real people and their real pain, our quickness to clean up wet faces and messy lives. The kleenex might be for you more than it is for the weeping person in your presence—the tissue is there to stop your own discomfort with people’s tragedies and your inability to fix it.
I’ve noticed that when you stop handing out kleenex, more comes out. More tears. More mess. More honesty. More stories. More prayers. More fertile ground for the Spirit of God to work.
I recommend you try this. Ditch the kleenex. Next time someone opens up and cries in your presence, just sit there, listen, and watch what happens. I’m sure good intentions drive the passing of the kleenex, but I’m less sure it’s helpful.
Do you want to be the person who stops people’s tears prematurely? Or do you want to be the person who receives the full weight of people’s tears? I’m not giving you a rule, just a suggestion. An experiment to try. Ditch the kleenex and let people cry.