Most people would never guess this about me, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
I’m an emotional wuss.
Yep, that’s right. A sissy. A total cry-baby. A pathetic sap for all things sentimental. I know, I know. It’s totally within girl code to tear up at weddings and at the end of Steel Magnolias. But I am not one of those girls who is comfortable with crying in public over things that don’t directly involve me. Here’s an example: when my newborn daughter was diagnosed with Down syndrome I walked the halls of the hospital not caring a bit if the whole world noticed that my eyes were swollen red and hollow, the result of 72 hours of nonstop tear flowage. I was okay with that because I felt I was well within my rights to cry and grieve the life I so eagerly anticipated during ten months of pregnancy.
If, on the other hand, a single tear dare spill over during a particularly moving rendition of The National Anthem, I would definitely have to resort to my tried and true eye-widening, lip-biting technique for cover. I can’t really pinpoint the difference. All I know is that crying over things that affect me is okay; crying over things that move me isn’t.
So, you can only imagine my dismay when today at my Gods’ons baptism those darn emotions of mine flared up again and threatened to leave me vulnerable before an entire congregation of people. I was fine through most of it. It wasn’t until the end when the pastor dipped Adam’s teensy little innocent head in the water and spoke the words that officially welcomed him as a child of God. Oh yeah, I was a goner. The same thing has happened with the baptisms of each of my own children as well as my nephew (and Godson), Caleb. There is something about the sight of a precious little head being splashed and wiped clean with that snow white cloth. And of course the realization that no matter what lies in wait in that young life, forgiveness has already been granted. It’s powerful stuff.
Though the circumstances are entirely different, I get the same way during Oprah’s show from time to time. Or when I listen to certain country songs with really touching stories hidden in the lyrics. Or when my children make me proud. Or when they do those tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King on TV in January. I even got teary when we were walking up to the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery recently. I was trying to tell Kennedy that she needed to be at least somewhat reserved during our visit there. I should have been prepared with a well-rehearsed answer for the inevitable question she asked next: Why? I started to tell her that we needed to be respectful of the men and women who died to-gulp. I sort of trailed off at the end because the lime-sized lump in my throat prevented me from finishing the thought.
Only recently did I let my husband in on my tendency towards tears. And guess what. He was surprised. I’ve become so adept at hiding my sappy emotional side that I was able to fool even him. Pretty crazy huh? I think so.
I guess my secret is a secret no longer though. Maybe my little confession here will give me the freedom to weep like a baby the next time I am so moved. Public or not. I sort of have my doubts but it’s worth a shot.