I have terrible memory recall, yet some of my most poignant remembered moments are of deep grief. They are of moments when my dark was the darkest, and my hope was gone. Moments when anxiety was so great within me, I couldn't breathe. I read this passage this morning, a Psalm from David.
"I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes."
It is highlighted in my Bible. I still remember the season when it became highlighted. It was 9 years ago. It was the time after my 47 yr old dad had died suddenly leaving us all in a state of shock and grief. Countless tears were cried, screams of anguish, long dreary days of no hope and relief in sight.
More seasons of lament have come since then. The suffering of my mom and her death from cancer, health problems, job loss, broken relationships, disappointments in ministry, struggles with the children, my own daily fight with depression and anxiety. Seasons of lament come and they go and yet some pain in our lives tend to be chronic.
These words of David are so beautiful. They so perfectly describe the grief of trauma to our hearts. Yet, we - as a culture - have this stupid insistence to wrap things up neat and tidy and that includes our pain.
Well meaning wishers that pat our backs and with soulful eyes, tell us it will be okay - this too shall pass. Hearts of "tough love" that take us by the shoulders, look deep into our eyes and say, "you got this, you are strong, you'll make it. When all the while inside of us we are crying: I. Don't. Think. So.
Lament is the cry of our brokenness, an acknowledgement of the unfairness of this world, the betrayal that cuts deep to our core.
And it must be given permission to be released. We typically will give permission to those that have experienced the " big things". Those capital T traumas that knock the wind out of all of us when we hear. And, sometimes, we will give some season of time to the other traumas, the kind of average ones, the death of elderly grandmother or father or others of the like. Even in those, we get a little impatient. Impatient with ourselves and impatient with others.
And what of those those daily traumas? The chronic illness, the mental health fight, the conflict ridden relationships, the offensive employer, the wayward child, the disabled parent or child, etc.
What of those small traumas that plague our mind, our body, our soul, our spirit?
Do we allow ourself to lament, to weep, to grieve? Do we wrestle and name our pain, call out our anger, and scream out to a God we can't seem to feel, hear, or see?
Do we give room for others to experience their own pain? Do we allow ourselves to mourn with those who mourn, or are we only willing to rejoice with those who rejoice?
We try to answer the questions, we repeat sentiments of "everything happens for reason", and we convince ourselves that others have it worse.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with those things, but if they are used as defense against pain, then they have become the scapegoat for your grief.
It's okay not to be okay. God is big enough for your pain. Put words to the anguish you feel inside, name your disappointments, deal with your anger. Our tender Shepherd waits to comfort and carry you through.
Psalm 23 states "the Lord is my shepherd", when I walk through the valley of death..." I don't need to fear the evil or fear the pain. Walk through that valley of death, not around or over.
Rob Bell says this, "What you are experiencing needs expression".
The broken places of pain-big and small-they need to be expressed, acknowledged. Freedom and peace is found in this expression.
Charles Spurgeon said "Those who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls".
Freedom and healing does not come in the avoidance of pain, but in the expression of the pain. Surrender of the pain does not come in the "pushing out" of the pain, surrender comes in the experience of the pain.
If you let yourself lament and name your pain, there will come an acceptance and then surrender - but you must first acknowledge and express. And, sometimes, for those who suffer ongoing trauma-there are days where you just need to give expression to the weariness, the exhaustion, the anger over your daily struggle. When given freedom to release, to be named and seen - pain loses its control. Joy will be found again.
God promises us He does not forget the cry of the afflicted. He sees our tears, He knows our anguish and he invites us to take refuge. Refuge, not for the ignoring or pushing away of pain, but refuge while we feel deeply the pain experienced.
Joy will eventually come in the morning, healing will take place-but only if you let yourself first endure the weeping.