Your Tears Will Teach You

desire greif pain tears trauma Mar 16, 2022

Blog by Gem Fadling

For the last few years, I have been caught up in the TV show The Good Doctor. It’s the story of a young man with autism who is doing his residency at a hospital. Viewers get to see how he functions within his community, and in one episode he is asked to explain why he wants to be a doctor. Without spoiling it for any of you who plan to watch, let’s just say he gives a real tear-jerker of a speech. Short. To the point. Perfectly authentic.


My eyes welled up and tears spilled over onto my cheeks. I felt joy, connection, hope.


Maybe you’re thinking, But, Gem, this is just a TV show. Connection? Really? Yes. And you’ve likely felt it too while watching a movie or TV series. At some point I’m sure you have connected to a particular character or story arc and you felt moved. Maybe to tears, or maybe to laughter or anger or some other emotion. But you were moved.


Many years ago, I was prayed over by an experienced spiritual director who also happened to be a nun at the Pecos Benedictine Abbey in New Mexico. She will be forever in my heart because of her grace, care, and prayerful presence as we delved into the depths of my soul.


One of the things she told me as I cried during prayer is that tears are a gift. In fact, she called it “the gift of tears,” and I haven’t thought of my tears the same way since then. Tears are a gift. They point to something. Tears can show you what is important to you. Tears can teach you something about yourself that you haven’t yet discovered, or they can remind you of something significant that you forgot. Or tears may simply enable you to express some deep pain you carry.


One reason I was so moved by that episode of The Good Doctor is that a young man whom everyone thought of as “weird” or “unqualified” found the respect and admiration of a roomful of people. He spoke the simple truth about his desire to become a doctor, and his qualification was undeniable.


In that moment he became a projection for the part of me that feels like I don’t always fit in or that I’m not qualified. Sometimes my own limitations keep me from what I want, so my eyes filled with tears because I recognized that within myself. This fictional character gave voice to that part of me.


This is just a simple story of watching a TV show and being moved to tears by some great acting and dialogue. But I was also able to get a glimpse inside myself, where I recognized the desire for acceptance in spite of my limitations. And I know I’m not alone. Don’t we all want that? Don’t we all want to be accepted in spite of our own issues?


 Understanding this about myself enables me to offer acceptance to myself first and then to others. It equips me to extend grace as often as possible. To remember that people are not machines or bit players in a movie that centers around me. People are people, and we can all use an extended hand of grace now and again.


In this current climate of anger, contempt, depression, and division, lived grace is more important than ever. Let your tears guide you to that grace.



  • What brings a tear to your eye?
  • What might this be telling you about a place of desire or pain.
  • How can you extend grace to yourself within this space?
  • How might you extend that same grace to others?

Photo by tabitha turner on Unsplash