YOUR TEARS DON’T MOVE ME,” A PROFESSOR TOLD A WOMAN IN MY HUSBAND’S COUNSELING LAB. His words stunned the group, but the woman stopped crying. “Those were tears of frustration,” he said. “They weren’t tears of brokenness.” I’ve thought of that when someone’s tears haven’t moved me and wondered what was behind them. Crocodiles shed tears when they eat their prey, but not from regret or sorrow.
Some people use tears to manipulate. Others use flattery. If that doesn’t work, they pout or explode to get us to follow their script. I joined the staff of an outreach ministry after college to work with high school students. I felt duty-bound to any student who reached out to me. My inexperienced faith confused my role with God’s.
I allowed a student to manipulate me out of time and sleep. Her urgent calls at all hours and unwillingness to acknowledge my efforts to terminate calls left me exhausted. When my director found out he offered some sound advice. He said the time I gave this girl took away from spiritually receptive students and from God’s best. My time belonged to God, and I was accountable to Him for how I spent it. His words resonated with me.
I’d begun to dread hearing from this gal, and his counsel gave me permission to limit my one-on-one time with her.(more…)