Let Me Lament

For the last several weeks, I’ve been co-teaching a class on some books in the Old Testament.  Unlike my co-leader,  I’ve never taken a college level type Bible course in my life, so I’m pretty much making it up as I go along.

Thank the Lord for commentaries and the internet.

Last week we were in this book titled Lamentations.  And it’s exactly what it claims.  Five full chapters of lamenting.

According to Merriam-Webster, lament means to mourn aloud, cry out in grief...wail.

This book wails.  

It’s set right after the Babylonians sieged and ransacked Jerusalem.  Filled with starvation, disease, and death by the sword, the book spews uncontrolled sorrow.  Understandable since there’s even passages about mother’s boiling their babies to eat. (And here I thought Cormac McCarthy’s, The Road was a dark tale.)

But as the grief continued, what got to me was the freedom allowed for the author to express that grief.

I feel so often, particularly in the church world, we rush to make everything all better.  We set time limits on pain.  Stopwatches to monitor mourning.  Send well-meaning counselors to handle hardships.

We have catchphrases such as, “Don’t pray for an easier life, pray for it to make you stronger.”

Or, “Difficulties and obstacles are God’s challenges to faith.”

And my personal favorite, “When life knocks you to your knees...PRAY!”

Ten years ago, hearing words such as these only made it worse.  I felt they believed my inability to rejoice in my sufferings was a faith problem - not a life is shit problem.

Now when I hear them, I simply hold back the urge to call the person closer so I can punch her in the ear.  

Because no matter how many times you say Jesus made it all better, it won't make the real healing come any faster.

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Healing is on it’s own timetable.   

I know too many times when I've deserved a good ear punching myself for fixing instead of loving.  Encouraging instead of listening.

Sometimes we need to just let people lament.  Give people permission to feel like ass.

They aren’t weaker for it.  They aren’t suffering a lack of faith for it.  They certainly shouldn’t be immediately diagnosed with depression by those lacking a PhD for it.

Sometime life just sucks.  And it sucks bad.  And it can suck for a long time.

 

What are your thoughts on this?  Are there some times in your life where you’d rather have a quiet shoulder than an encouraging doer?  Have you experienced someone trying to make it better, when you really just needed to lament?

 

 

 

A Son's Goodbye

A friend of mine lost his father this week.  I feel like I've been watching a lot of my friend's lose their fathers lately.  Maybe we're just getting to that age. (Although being in our 30's doesn't seem quite that old)  I worked with this particular friend at a TV station in Las Vegas.  He was in the promotions department.  That meant it was his job to try to get people to want to watch the stories I covered by piecing together a 15-30 second promo to air during Dancing with the Stars.  With some of the stories I did, it's a testament to his ability that anyone watched at all.  

So this week, when his father lay dying in a hospital bed and he put his feelings into words on Facebook, I knew they were words I wanted to share here.  He so accurately describes that feeling of being so grateful you had that person in your life and how you so desperately want to celebrate that life, but the grief of their loss makes it near impossible.  

This is Sean's goodbye letter to his father.

Dad

I'm here for you, dad. The last few days have been the hardest journey of my entire life, but here I am. Here I am, waiting and watching your body fight the hardest battle of your life and losing, after the terrible things that happened inside your brain. I know you are probably gone, at least it seems that way to us on the outside. That is why I want to believe that your soul has been taken away, taken home to where you have no more pain and no more use for the crumbling temple wasting away in a hospital bed. I think that I do now-I believe that while we spend time visiting, watching and waiting for something to happen, your spirit is somewhere else. We struggle and stress, but your new life has already begun. That is why I have to say goodbye. This hurts more than anything I have ever done in my life, but it is important. I love you more than you ever know, dad, and even though we had a lot of good times and a lot of bad ones, you gave me life, and you gave me family. Family that is helping me through the painful times right now, and to celebrate the good times to come.

The hurt is strong right now, raw and unyielding. I can't numb this pain, but I can't be sad anymore. I wish this was easier. It is not, and I know it's not for anyone who has to go through this awful struggle. So here I am, wanting to say goodbye but wishing I didn't have to. You are my dad, and always will be. I know you will always be with me, in ways that I look at with fondness, and in ways that I hate, but you will always be there. I love you dad, and always will. As you go into this new journey, know that I will never forget you. I will never leave you. I will always be here for you, wherever you are. This is why I am saying goodbye, dad, and pushing away the sadness to make way for celebration—celebration of a life lived completely. Through the pain I will find happiness, for what I have become is because of you.

I love you dad.