A friend recently told me about a new show called The Good Doctor. It’s about a resident at a hospital who has autism and how he functions with his community. At one point the autistic young man is asked to defend why he wants to become a doctor. Without spoiling it for any of you who plan to watch it, let’s just say he gives a real  tear-jerker of a speech. Short. To the point. Perfectly authentic.

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

But, Gem, this is just a TV show. Connection? Really? Yes. And you have felt it too. In some past movie or show, you have felt a connection to a particular character or story line and you were moved. Maybe not to tears, maybe to some other emotion. You were moved.

Many years ago, I was prayed for 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.” I haven’t looked at my tears the same since that time. They are a gift. They point to something. Tears show you what is important to you. They can point out something about yourself that you haven’t yet discovered. They can remind you of something significant that you forgot. Or maybe you simply need to express some kind of pain.

At least one reason I was moved by The Good Doctor is that a young man who everyone else thought was “weird” or “unqualified” found the respect and admiration of a room full of people. He spoke the simple truth about his desire to become a doctor. And his qualification became undeniable.

In that moment, he became a projection for that part of me that doesn’t always feel like I fit in or that I’m qualified. Sometimes my “conditions” are limitations that may keep me from what I want. So my eyes filled with tears because I recognized that within me. His desire gave voice to that part of me.

And don’t we all want that? Don’t we all want to be accepted in spite of our own issues? I know I do.

Let’s bring this back to tears. This is just a simple story of watching a show and being moved by some great acting and dialogue. But I was able to get a glimpse inside of myself (the desire for acceptance in spite of my limitations).

And that is a good thing to remember about myself. Because I know I’m not alone. It means that I can offer that acceptance to myself and then to others. Others who, like me, also want to be accepted in spite of their issues or apparent limitations.

I can seek to extend this kind of grace as often as possible. To remember that people are not machines or bit players in a movie about me. People are people and we could all use an extended hand of grace now and again.

In this current climate of anger, contempt, depression and more, 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, pain or something else?
  • How can you extend grace to yourself within this space?
  • How might you extend that same grace to someone else?


Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash