Crying? Me? Nah, I’ve just got something in my eye

Audio Version:


I park in front of the grocery store and turn off the ignition. Just before I get out, I glance at my rearview and see that my eyes are bloodshot. What can you do?

Entering the store, I know that either I look stoned, allergic, or like I had been crying. I wasn’t stoned or allergic. I had just been listening to some music on the drive over. (It doesn’t really matter what song it was, but if you must know, I posted the video at the bottom of the post.)

I tear up often, but rarely out of sadness, pain or frustration. It is usually because something touches my heart – usually in a good way, and a lot of times it isn’t really convenient. I’m the guy who wept like a baby during the first 10 minutes of “Up.” I’m also the guy that gets teary telling my EC about some article I read. I am also the guy that sometimes sits and types blog posts and books through his tears and runny nose.

Mind you, I’m not a glutton for punishment. I don’t go seeking out tear-jerking movies, or listen to despondent music – I’m not a masochist. I’m fully aware that my leaky eyes do seem kind of stupid, and not manly in a “manly” sort of way society likes to define manliness.

But, I’m okay with that.

Whenever I find my eyes leaking a little in a church meeting, listening to music, watching a movie or having a conversation, etc., I feel a small reassurance.  Somehow, in a lifetime of challenges, in a cold, cruel world, full of anger, hatred and pain, I have managed to preserve a little bit of softness in my heart.

“Boys don’t cry?”  Whatever.

It is also possible that as I have grown older, I am more comfortable embracing that soft, squishy part of my heart. I am nowhere near the President Eyring Master Class level of public tears, but I have had to pause and gather my wits while speaking now and again.

Having a soft heart helps us believe and act accordingly. Even Nephi wasn’t too fired up to do what Lehi asked of him – until he was able to have his heart tenderized:

“…I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.” (1 Nephi 2:16)

After that, Nephi was all fired up to “go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.” (1 Nephi 3:7)

Being a crybaby does not ensure that a heart is soft – it could mean that we are just easily manipulated emotionally – there is a difference. One of the best quotes I have ever read on this subject is from Sister Bonnie Oscarson, the former Young Women General President of the Church in an article about youth activities. Check this out:

“The Spirit does not come through overly sensational or dramatic attempts to manipulate emotion. Let’s be careful that we don’t create experiences in which the youth may mistake experiencing strong emotional feelings such as sadness or surprise for feeling the Spirit. Occasionally we hear of youth who think if they are not crying like everyone else, they must not be feeling the Spirit. Appropriate activities will invite the Spirit of the Holy Ghost in sweet, quiet ways, and we all react to those personal feelings in our own ways. Our hope is that our youth are learning to recognize the Spirit of the Lord and will not be deceived by false substitutes.” (link)

We need to be able to discern the difference, and be familiar how the Holy Ghost speaks to our hearts – which can be wildly individualized. Elder Gerald Lund gave an entire talk about hearts. In it, he put it on us to evaluate the soft/hardness of our hearts:

“Mormon wrote of the Nephites, “Their souls were filled with joy and consolation … because of their yielding their hearts unto God.”

Isn’t that something we all seek, brothers and sisters—to be visited by the Holy Ghost, to have the Lord draw closer to us, to find joy and consolation in our lives? If so, then carefully assessing the condition of our hearts is one of the most essential things we can do in this life.”

He went on to acknowledge that, “The heart is a tender place. It is sensitive to many influences, both positive and negative. It can be hurt by others. It can be deadened by sin. It can be softened by love. 

The condition of our hearts directly affects our sensitivity to spiritual things. Let us make it a part of our everyday striving to open our hearts to the Spirit. Since we are the guardians of our hearts, we can choose to do so. We choose what we let in or hold out. Fortunately the Lord is anxious to help us choose wisely.”  (link)

Thanksgiving is a welcome time of year to reflect on our blessings. Expressing gratitude has a natural effect of softening our hearts. It also affects the hearts of those we express gratitude for. (Which makes the case that gratitude is best expressed outwardly, not just inwardly. It is great to tell Heavenly Father that I am grateful for my Elder’s Quorum President, but it is even a better thing to tell my EQP, too.)

The best way to soften a heart is to use it.

We can actually take advantage of the season and spirit of Thanksgiving as an opportunity to check the condition of our hearts, and work towards letting the Holy Ghost help us make adjustments, if needed. He is best at it, and that is part of his job. “And behold, I thank my great God that he has given us a portion of his Spirit to soften our hearts.” (Alma 24:8)

So, if you ever see me at the movies, and I’m the guy who is slow to get up, and you catch me doing the fake yawn/wipe the eyes move, know that I am just fine with that.

I’m even old and wise enough to know to shove few tissues in my pocket in advance, you know, just in case I get something in my eye.

Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.


About the author


  1. You were definitely inspired to post this song today. Thank you. I have someone in my life that needed these words in that exact form. I only hope their heart is soft enough to hear and feel it.

  2. Our Choir sang “This is the Christ” today. I am the Choir director and pianist. I invited one of our talented young men to play the violin accompaniment. The practices have been meager and soft and challenging. When we sang today, it was beautiful and strong. It was as if we were surrounded by angels, lifting us up. I’m at the piano trying to see the notes through my tears and not shake from almost sobbing. It was an incredible feeling and “there’s something in my eye” right now as I share this. The words to the song are moving, written by Pres. James E. Faust and music by a guy I went to high school with and to feel the Spirit so strongly as we sang filled my heart.
    I love that you share these tender thoughts with us. A strong masculine man with a kind, soft heart-there’s not much better in this world.
    My thoughts of gratitude fill my soul and the tears come often. I feel so blessed for this life and all it has to offer. Thank you AGAIN for turning our hearts where we need to be.

  3. Well Said. For some of us, age and experience are needed to soften our hearts.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving Brad! Thankful for you and how you share so much with us through your blog. I have been blessed many, many times by it and have grown spiritually because of it. I too, cry when I’m touched by the Spirit. It is rarely convenient and what makes it worse is my son loves to stare at me, especially in Sacrament meeting to see if I’m gonna cry. It’s a special tradition we have…ha! So grateful!

  5. Love the song! My husband cries at Disney movies too and I love that. I’m no a crier, but feel strongly all the same. Thanks for your post!

  6. We should thank our Creator daily for our blessings. We are nothing and have nothing without HIM., our HEAVENLY FATHER.

  7. I can do identify with this post! Just this morning I was in tears just thinking about how much I love me family!

  8. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. I love this post and feel that being sensitive to certain situations are more than okay. It lets me know I still have a soft heart and that is a good thing. I am thankful all year long for many things but absolutely love the feeling that comes with this holiday season because people are more kind and loving to each other, especially strangers we have never met.

  9. My husband and my father are softies and that’s wonderful. I know they feel free to have a little weep when something we’re reading or watching touches their hearts. Reflecting back, I have a concern about girls camp testimony meetings which sometimes dissolve into near hysterics. It’s hard for the girls to handle so much emotion. I think they feel a requirement to do the ugly cry. Wouldn’t it be more tender if they became “sweet and quiet: as Sister Oscarson said?

    1. Allison, my two oldest daughters, now in their 50’s, will never forget a wonderful YW leader who taught a lesson in the week before camp on that subject. She told them how (when moved on by the Spirit) you will sometimes feel emotional but it was NOT a requirement for a testimony. The girls seemed to think if you didn’t boo-hoo your head off, it wasn’t authentic. She pointed out some of the VERY strong testimonies by General Authorities with NO tears at all. Tears are okay, just don’t get carried away. They came home from YW just burning to tell me about it and I was thankful for a leader who felt the Spirit herself and taught with so much power. I rarely had my kids make any comments about lessons they just had, so this was unusual.

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)