Grief is unique. Unlike emotions that don’t necessarily take you anywhere and can also keep you stuck, grief is a forward motion. It hurts like hell and that is where it starts to move you forward to denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Pain is your beginning. Grief means I am getting ready for what is next because I am finishing what is over.
No one wants to finish what is over when it comes to grief. We always want that person to be with us longer. Just one more day… Just one more laugh… Grief moves us to become participants in life again when we really don’t want to. Yet somehow grief does move us forward.
Maybe because grief states loud and clear, (whomever or whatever your blank gets filled in with) MATTERS. This person is gone, my heart is smashed, because he/she mattered on this earth. Grief honors that. Grief is the price of love.
Sarah is married to a graduated teen of mine. Both Sarah and Kevin are longtime missionaries to Botswana. To me his 2nd best ever life decision (after deciding to live for Jesus) has been to marry her. I love them both so much. Sarah has so vulnerably shared her grief over the loss of her dad. (Read here, here, here, and here.) Her writing is beautiful because somehow her pain is beautiful. As the Velveteen Rabbit said, “Because once you are Real you can’t be ugly.” Sarah is giving us a gift. I wish she didn’t have it to give us though.
I found this beautiful expression of grief from a clever book called Textbook, as in text different things from this book to the author. The author wrote:
Really, what punctuation is one supposed to use?
Death demands its own designated punctuation mark. Maybe:
___________________ died /
It is the dividing line / everything on this side is different.Amy Rosenthal Krouse, Textbook, p.269
(The author soon died after this publication at the age of 51. What do you say about that punctuation mark now?)
Grief moves us forward to everything being different. No wonder no one likes grief.
Over at Brave Dating I shared about lament. Lament is a passionate expression of grief. It’s the cry of our heart that is usually full of anguish, sadness or heartache. And it is something to do together.
Which we can’t do in this format. So I encourage you to gather with your circle of friends and write a lament. Maybe you didn’t lose a loved one to death. Maybe you’ve lost a job. Or you had to move out of your home you loved to keep your job? Maybe you are grieving the loss of a friendship? Or your church family which just went through an ugly disgrace? Grief is loss and grief hurts and grief moves forward and must be expressed.
How do you start? Let’s start with how to write your own personal psalm because there are elements to most of the Psalms that can be laments.
Looking at the makeup of the Psalms we learn that most used a similar structure. The recurring theme is:
- Call God by name(s)
- Ask God for something
- Tell God why you think you deserve this
- Call attention to the wicked or call down vengeance or any other bold statement that feels uncomfortable but comes from your pain.
- Give thanks to God
We will use Psalm 13 as a model for this.
1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? (This one is direct to asking God for something. The lament is quite urgent. No wonder I like it. But you’ve seen the many Psalms that list attributes of God.)
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die. (Tell God why you think you deserve this.)
4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. (Bold statement.)
5 But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me. (Give thanks to God.)
Going back to the Psalm structure, most of you will probably have no trouble with the Psalm elements of #1, #2, #4, and #5 with #4 being one you might enjoy too much, depending on how angry you are. Let’s not forget that David was angry too so do not be afraid of your anger—especially when you can turn it into a prayer to God.
But #3 may feel awkward. Who are we to tell God why we deserve something? This is who we are—we are His creation whom He delights in and wants a personal relationship with us. Personal means He is involved with us personally so I am not afraid to be vulnerably open to God. There are times my heart is smashed and I have some things to say to God. I know I can. It is not disrespectful. It is actually out of my respect for God. I feel brave enough put words to how I feel. Instead of stuffing down my doubts and fears. Or trying to outperform my doubts and fears.
A safe faith says “I know you are omnipotent so I will feel helpless while I wait on you.” A brave faith says “here is my cry and here is my anger and here is how I feel. Thank you for blessing the godly.” David often did this which is why the Psalms have this pattern. And give us comfort.
So here is my attempt to write a lament using this psalm pattern.
Dear God, the Keeper of Life, the One who Understands the Big Picture.
I don’t understand.
And I hurt. I’m also angry.
The sun used to shine in the morning and make me glad.
But now another day brings another day of pain that feels like it is too much to bear.
I think it is too much to bear.
I need Your help. Even though I don’t understand where You are right now.
You feel far away but I also know that my pain colors everything in my life as gray right now.
Will I ever see colors again? Will I ever feel joy again? Will I ever eagerly get out of bed in the morning again?
The Bible says to trust You in this darkness. I honestly don’t. I hurt too much.
I hear other stories of Your faithfulness. I see other people trusting You daily. And they just make me angry. Why do they get such stories while I feel so abandoned?
You are called the Comforter. I beg You to comfort me even in my anger.
You are my Hope. You are the One who Understands the Big Picture.
I trust even though I don’t trust.
You are my Hope.
Will you write a lament? Will you put words to your anguish, sadness, and heartache? Don’t be afraid of the pain of this. Remember that pain is your beginning. This is where the growth starts. Numbing our pain is where we go astray.
Will you share your lament for others? To bless others in this togetherness of pain? Please email them to me at Brenda@bravester.com.