Thursday, August 20, 2020

Be Held- the practice of lament

Most days I am fine. I can feed the kids, cope with life, make it to the end of the day in one piece. And then there are some days I feel like I'm suffocating- like it's all too much- stuck. Unfortunately, our culture encourages us to suck it up, to numb the pain, to put on a happy face. None of that serves us; it keeps us broken instead of inviting healing. 

So what do we do with the pain? How do we survive in this world full of suffering? K.J. Ramsey has been teaching me that the psalms are the prayer book of the people of God, and that in the psalms we find words to give voice to our deep grief. The jewish people were well acquainted with grief and suffering, which then gave birth the practice of lament. Ramsey writes:
"The psalms offer a conversational means of uniting mind and heart, honesty and truth, despair and hope, humans and their Maker. We struggle to dwell in the tension between our pain and our need to praise, but the psalms hold us in a conversational traction."

I love that imagery: conversational traction. I can picture myself in a hospital bed with my leg suspended from some contraption intended to hold me in the right position to heal properly. Let that sink in. And then we can make the shift in our minds from "I feel stuck" to "I'm in traction". That's powerful. 

The psalms of lament give us words when we feel speechless. It's like when my girls are spiraling out of control and losing their minds and I invite them to climb into my lap and I hold them till they are calm enough to tell me what's going on. And sometimes I have to help them find words for the big feelings inside them- they are still learning. So am I. And the psalms help me find words.  

"O God, You have cast us off; You have broken us down. You have been displeased; Oh, restore us again! You have made the earth tremble, You have broken it; heal its breaches for it is shaking. You have shown Your people hard things; You have made us drink the wine of confusion." -Psalm 60:1-3

I don't know about you- but my heart echoes these feelings sometimes! And it's only as we come to God with honesty, revealing our hurting hearts in transparency (and finding Him kind and trustworthy) that we find healing. One more Ramsey quote: 

"The psalms show us how to acknowledge our pain with honesty. They teach us to approach God from the place of being undone instead of the prison of pretending we are self-sufficient and invulnerable. And in expressing our spitting frustration, derelict desperation and arresting anguish, we mysteriously experience being heard. Relating to God as needy, moody, exhausted children forms hope, praise and trust. Without vulnerability, the truth that God's love is steadfast remains abstract. Tears, groans, and sighs create the relational atmosphere where we can allow God to parent us. Weakness acknowledged and expressed forms trust." -K.J. Ramsey, This Too Shall Last

Just this week I found myself suffocating and stuck again. Thankfully, Josh whisked the kids off to the park so I could fall apart. So I wrapped myself in my Ugandan kikoy, climbed into the Father's lap and wept. I listened to Christy Nockels album: Be Held and it was just the thing I needed. In pouring out my heart to God, knowing my feelings were welcome, seen and cared for, I was able to take one more step towards wholeness. He is so gentle and kind. It's my prayer that you would find some time to do the same. We are all walking through a lot of loss and grief is a natural response. So let's turn to the psalms and find our way to the Father's heart where we can be held.

For more information on lament check out:

1 comment:

  1. This is so powerful! Thank you for your wise, authentic, and insightful writing. So glad to be connecting with you!


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