Technology has changed incredibly in my lifetime. Magnetic tape was invented in 1928. Okay, that’s quite a bit before I began “my lifetime”. But magnetic tape was limited at first to bulky and expensive ‘reel to reel’ recording machines. However in 1962 (two years after I began my apprenticeship as a fitter and turner) Phillips invented the ‘compact cassette’. Show a compact cassette to a teenager today and chances are that he’ll look at you with bemused bewilderment. Compact cassettes were replaced by compact discs (CDs) which are now being replaced by IPods and MP3 players. As I was saying, technology has changed incredibly during my life time.
Recently I hooked up my old cassette player to my computer to rescue some of those now ancient and obsolete recordings on cassette. I still had a large collection of lectures, family recordings and songs that I valued and most are now on my computer hard-drive. One of these cassettes included some songs by the Everly Brothers. Yep, I know – it’s not only the technology that is ancient. This singing duo began to be popular when I was a mere 12-year old lad. But… you can still listen to them today on YouTube. There is a sense in which technology has immortalized them.
What all of this is leading up to is a song that the Every Brothers’ popularised in the 1980s, “Crying in the Rain”. It’s a poignant love song about a relationship that ended in a broken heart. The second verse captures the heart of the song:
If I wait for cloudy skies
You won’t know the rain from the tears in my eyes
You’ll never know that I still love you so
Though the heartaches remain
I’ll do my cryin’ in the rain.
As I listened again to that song I found myself wondering why we human beings are so keen to hide our tears. We’re happy to share our laughter with others but not our tears. Why? We may still be willing to unload our woes and frustrations onto anyone who will listen – but tears…? No! We prefer to shed them away from the gaze of others. Tears show us at our most vulnerable. Especially we men are not supposed to cry. We were brought up with the dictum that big boys don’t cry.
Perhaps this reluctance to show our tears to others is part of the wider problem of exposing our vulnerability. And that’s not only a tears issue. That’s also a repentance and confession issue. Most parents know how hard it can be to get a child to say ‘Sorry’ to a sibling. When the words do finally come out they often come in a tone of voice that indicates that the child is neither remorseful nor desirous of reconciliation.
But that’s not just a childhood problem is it? Having to say, ‘Sorry’ is an admission of the reality that we were in the wrong. And we don’t like to be in the wrong. Saying ‘Sorry’ exposes our vulnerability. I know for myself how difficult it can be to apologise and as a Pastor I’ve sat with far too many people who have struggled to do that.
That song of the Everly Brothers has a helpful line about the core issue in the first verse:
I’ll never let you see
The way my broken heart is hurtin’ me
I’ve got my pride and I know how to hide
All my sorrow and pain
I’ll do my cryin’ in the rain.
Apologising requires the eating of a goodly slice of humble pie. So does the sharing of our tears. The pride that causes us to hide goes right back to Adam and Eve in Eden. Exposing our vulnerability can happen only when God has broken our proud heart and given us the humble heart that is the fruit of the saving work of Jesus in our lives.