The Power of Lament

Every day and every night I hear Your Word, (Whoa oh oh oh)

Every day and every night I do everything I can to help but nothing ever works

How do I live with peace and power?

Oh, Lord, Hear my plea.

-Kyle H.

The last time I let myself rage at God was back in 2014 on highway I-35. Overcome with a flood of emotional pain I didn’t know how to process, I pulled off the interstate in the pouring rain so I wouldn’t kill myself or someone else. My chest heaved and tears flowed. I drove aimlessly around a parking lot for what seemed like hours until the pain stopped and I drove home safely. That moment was one giant ugly cry, but in it, I felt the relief and power that is lament.

That day marks a turn in my journey of admitting I needed some major heart healing.

Lamentation is a dangerous thing for many of us. We fear looking the fool or our family and friends calling us crazy. It may appear and feel terribly uncomfortable, but there’s a cathartic power in expressing our anger, sadness, and hurt to God. What if we were like King David, who praised God, questioned Him, and cursed His enemies all in the same breath? I think we’d all be a lot healthier.

In Broken Hallelujahs: Learning to Grieve the Big and Small Losses in Life, Beth Slevcove guides the reader through an exercise called the Prayer of the Tantruming Child. (Isn’t that great?) Get it out in a lament to God. She gives permission to engage in an all-out tantrum (not in front of kids, bosses, etc.). She says, “Go ahead; give all you’ve got to God. God can take it; just read a few of the psalms and you will see.”

As strange as this may be in a stuff-it-down-put-on-a-pretty-smile Western culture, I believe lament is crucial.Tweet This

Lately, I’ve been feeling the need to unearth some small disappointments, ones that never seem to come to the surface. But I feel them feeding my emotions with irrational bites that come out of nowhere. One of those disappointments is not having any leads with my book proposal.

Those pages stacked up on my shelf are a little grief I’ve shoved into my heart’s dusty corners. Really, I haven’t touched the thing in months because I’m pretty ticked off at God. It’s time I came clean.

My Lament: Getting Honest with God

Merciful Father,

I am a pen, dashed to pieces. I was usable, now I feel used. You promised me You’d come through when I gave you my faith, my time, my pen. As I write I now, it is all Yours. But what the heck is going on?

What’s next? Where am I going to find direction? 

I’m lost in a desert of effort and exhaustion. I still myself by your oasis, and I sleep for days.

I chased after you—what I thought was the intersection of You and my story, the story YOU gave me. But it didn’t come together. It didn’t make sense.

I feel a mess. I feel like I’m walking a glass floor and I will fall through to jagged cliffs below. 

This is not free sailing, this is an effort forgotten, a waiting game.

I’m waiting to be rejected again. 

Pick me up. Show me the way—the narrow place where words make a difference.

The assurance mountain, fortified by Your Presence. Here no one will touch me. Don’t let them touch me, Lord. Keep me protected. 

Show up! Give me a marker or an invitation—which way to go. I won’t move until You say the word.

You were closest to me in my suffering. When I cried out in pain, You showed up and taught me how to pray. You taught me how to see. You taught me how to listen and give up. And be.

Teach me to rest in the unfixed places. Teach me which way to go. I trust only You.

A Two-Word Conclusion

It’s been a few days. I don’t have a light-bulb consolation, but I do feel lighter.

Lament helps.

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March 15, 2017