Mere Christianity: A Time to Cry

If you read my blog post several days ago on “Not a Curse” it probably won’t surprise you very much that I chose the following excerpt from CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity to discuss this week:

“There is none of our impulses which the Moral Law may not sometimes tell us to suppress, and none which it may not sometimes tell us to encourage. It is a mistake to think that some of our impulses—say mother love or patriotism—are good, and others, like sex or the fighting instinct are bad. All we mean is that the occasions on which the fighting instinct or the sexual desire need to be restrained are rather more frequent than those for restraining mother love or patriotism. But there are situations in which it is the duty of a married man to encourage his sexual impulse and of a soldier to encourage the fighting instinct. There are also occasions on which a mother’s love for her own children or a man’s love for his own country have to be suppressed or they will lead to unfairness towards other people’s children or countries. Strictly speaking, there are no such things as good and bad impulses. Think once again of a piano. It has not got two kinds of notes on it, the ‘right’ notes and the ‘wrong’ ones. Every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. The Moral Law is not any one instinct or any set of instincts: it is something which makes a kind of tune (the tune we call goodness or right conduct) by directing the instincts.” (Lewis, 23)

In my post “Not a Curse” I talked about how sometimes it’s easy to look at traits within you and despise them or despise yourself for having them. Yet often, it’s those very same traits that are some of your greatest gifts. The example I gave was that I trust and love very easily and very fiercely and that it’s often caused me pain. So much so that I’ve called it a curse and wished I wasn’t that way. But when I look at myself carefully, these are actually two of the biggest gifts that God’s given me.

I think that this excerpt from CS Lewis speaks to that very problem and applies some logic as remedy. Those “impulses” (to use Lewis’ verbiage) within me need to be tempered with wisdom to be acted upon in the right manner at the right time. If those “notes” aren’t played properly, the tune won’t come out correctly.

In case you can’t identify with the example I gave in my previous post, I can actually think of several others. One that came to mind was tears. You may have heard me talk about my tears before. I’ve become pretty well-known for being a crier. But when I was growing up, tears were a curse to me. The boys in the neighborhood picked on me for being a sissy girl whenever I cried. And at home, when I cried, my Dad would get angry and my Mom and brother would tease me and call me names that are still too painful for me to repeat.

Eventually, I learned not to cry. Crying was a liability. So, I went through depression, destructive and abusive relationships, turmoil at home, and a rape, rarely shedding a single tear. The pent-up stress came out in other ways. Eating disorders. Headaches. Bouts of deep depression. Constant sicknesses. But I didn’t cry.

When I was twenty-two, during a period of depression, I was talking on the phone with a good friend. I don’t remember exactly what was going on that night, but I remember saying to him, “I just feel like crying.” And he responded, “Well then, cry.” And suddenly, it was as if I had permission to cry. My friend’s being okay with it made it okay for me, too. And I’ve been a crier ever since.

At one time, I would have labeled crying “bad” but now I realize that it’s how and when it’s done that makes it right. If I used it for manipulating others, it would be wrong. But there are times when I’m sad or stressed that tears are exactly the outlet that I need and at those times, they aren’t wrong at all. In fact, they’re healthy and useful for releasing my stress and pain.

My friend, Eliza, often encouraged me to live my life in a balanced way and I think that’s the key here. And that leads me to this truth:

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven… A time to cry and a time to laugh…” (from Ecclesiastes 3)

I invite you to stop by my friend and co-facilitator, Jason’s website at to see what he has to say about Chapter 2 of CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Also, if you’ve written a post on the chapter, you’ll find the link widget at Jason’s place. It’ll be back here, along with Chapter 3, next week!

About Sarah Salter


  1. All you have been through still whelms me. Seeing you deal with and use your experience blesses me. There is definitely an appropriate time for different actions… all actions are not appropriate.

    Crying is healing… Shared tears can bring comfort.

    Cry on, Sister!

  2. This. Was. Beautiful.

    How many times have I been frustrated with my little sensitive heart… Your post makes beautiful, mercy-filled sense. *hugs* Thank you.

  3. Such a powerful truth. He made us for specific purpose but that doesn’t mean we are controlled by that one characteristic and not His Spirit, love, and wisdom. So good! Thanks Sarah.

  4. Our best impuelses — tempered by wisdom. That’s a great truth, Sarah. And all of us usually have to learn it the hard way. Thanks for this post.

  5. I love your heart that comes through in your writing. Thank you for this post and great thoughts on this content from Mere Christianity.

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Dusty, some days, it all really overwhelms me, too. But when I get it all in perspective, I realize that there’s other people who have been through so much more. And because of the lessons I’ve learned, I can understand them and love them and really, really help them. And that’s where wisdom and discernment comes in and helps me decide on the times for every purpose. And thanks for the encouragement, Dusty! I WILL cry on! 🙂

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Angela, THANK YOU for coming by! You’re such a sweetheart! I so appreciate and enjoy you!

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, what’s the point in having a purpose if we’re going to do the wrong thing with it? I know I don’t have the wisdom to fulfill my purpose. But HE does. So, instead of putting everybody through pain, I just need to ask Him and obey Him right to start with!

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Glynn, I love the way you phrased that: “our best impulses, tempered by wisdom.” Exactly. I also really enjoyed your thoughts on your blog today. It’s so easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that everything we do is for a just cause, when the truth is that sometimes, we just do what feels good and stamp our own approval on it without getting God’s. We twist and justify what we do instead of asking God what He wants. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Ryan! And thanks also for participating! I’m on my way to your blog to read your post right now! 🙂

  11. I really liked this. 🙂

    But I don’t like to cry.

    Maybe you can teach me?


    *stocks up on Kleenexes*

  12. Sarah Salter says:

    DS, I can’t teach you. Only God can make you a crier or not. 🙂

  13. Excellent point, Sarah.

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