Dear You Who Doesn’t Want to Lament,
I know you don’t want to because I don’t want to. And pretty much all human hearts are the same when it comes right down to it.
I know you don’t want to grieve the past or sit in the sadness or lance the wound and let all the infection run out.
But let me tell you what happens when you don’t.
You get really, really angry at your kids, or your husband, or a parent, or at a hurt from a friend. Mount Vesuvius explodes right out of you, the hot lava of your words and anger and wrath exploding over people you love the most because you’ve been pinning things down under the surface of your chest for so many years. So many decades. So many long years of your life.
And the faces of the people you love the most are looking back at you in terror or fear or puzzlement or confusion or sadness and you can’t stand yourself or your reaction even as it oozes out of you.
Ask me how I know this. (Remember, I said all human hearts are essentially the same.)
Or when you should get angry over a legitimate hurt or injustice, you don’t. You go numb, withdraw, shut down, like a snail in a shell where no one can get at you or reach you. And here your heart doesn’t explode. It hardens. Into stone. Where you can’t give love but you can’t receive love either.
So let’s go back to lamenting. When you are acting like a volcano, exploding all over everything and everyone, or you’re hiding like a snail, pulling into your shell, heart hardening like a stone, that’s a sign, a symbol, an arrow on the map of your life that says you need to stop. Pause. Get down low. Get real quiet, and get with God. The God Who sees all things and knows all things and remembers all things and knows exactly why you are exploding all over the place. Who knows why you are hiding and hardening and numbing and withdrawing.
And in the pause, He takes His surgeon’s knife, and goes to the source of the wound, the anger of the eruption, the fear behind the paralysis, and slices it right open. He cuts to the quick of you. And lets all the poison come pouring out.
The poison of hurts built up from the past – the rejection, real rejection, we experience from friends. The betrayal – real betrayal – we feel from family members. The hurt – real hurt – we receive from a spouse. And He listens. Oh, how He listens.
He listens to us cry and hurt and wail and pound our fists and demand answers and call out questions – even questions to Him of all people – about where He was and why He allowed this and what kind of God is He and does He even care and would we be better off without Him. And He waits for all of our anger and lamenting and wailing and crying and pacing to be finished.
And then He sits. He sits with us in the silence when all of our words are spent. He lays down with us in the tomb. And He waits for us to turn to Him.
And when we do we see a God Who has been waiting for us the whole time. We see a God who has been there the whole time – who doesn’t necessarily give us answers, but He gives us something better than the answers – He gives us Himself.
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:15, 18
And as we turn and receive and embrace the God Who has always been there with us through every winding, twisting turn, the joy of His presence becomes greater than the pain of our past.
Because His presence is everything – it’s everything we have ever wanted but didn’t know we needed. We thought we were looking for the perfect friend, or the perfect marriage, or the perfect kids, or the perfect family portrait, or the perfect home, or the perfect past, or the perfect job, or the perfect life, but all along – surprise – we’ve been looking for Him.
And when we lament and pour it all out, when we tell Him where we really are, what we’ve really done, and the pain and hurt of what other people have done to us, we find Him at the bottom of it all.
That’s why we have to lament.
We don’t want to sit in the sadness of Saturday. But we have to. We have to if we want to get to the joy of Sunday. Resurrection, redemption, joy-filled Easter Sunday.
So Dear You Who Doesn’t Want to Lament (I’m going to end just like I started),
Don’t you see you have to lament?
Don’t you see you have to go down in order to come up?
Don’t you see you have to pour it all out before you can be filled back up?
Don’t you see you have to taste Lent before you can savor Easter?
I did. I had and still have to lament on a regular basis so that things don’t build and I explode or harden and I withdraw.
To stay present to my people, to my circumstances, to my God, I must lament so that I can turn, and heal, and rest and lean into Him, His presence, His character, and His ways.
To learn more about lament and how it helped me and my daughter, Mia Grace, you can read about it in my new book, Restore: Remembering Life’s Hurts with the God Who Rebuilds, that releases April 7th.
To learn more about how you can learn to write and pray your own laments and receive God’s comfort, you can find those tools in my new seven week Bible study, Restore: Remembering Life’s Hurts with the God Who Rebuilds, releasing April 7th as well.
But whatever you do, don’t stay stuck where you are. Don’t stay explosive and angry – hurting yourself and hurting the people around you. And don’t stay withdrawn and unavailable – hurting yourself and hurting the people around you.
Be courageous enough to tell your story – your whole story – to God. And receive the comfort and healing of His presence in ways you never knew possible.
As crazy as it sounds, the road to healing is straight down the path of lament. Restoration waits on the other side.