Wednesday was one of those days. Several emotional issues collided at precisely the same time, hitting me sideways and causing a torrent of tears. Once the faucet was turned on, it was as if the light of joy went out. It took me the rest of the day to locate the “off” handle so I could return to a semblance of normalcy.
The thing is, no one died. In fact, I remember having a moment of clarity, even as I wept, that my grief was not like that of losing someone. It wasn’t the empty kind of grief I had during my miscarriage, for example, or of learning one of my living children had been harmed. The grief of a mother who has lost something dear is particularly deep. But a piece of it did involve one of my children and a particular concern I’ve had that seemed to deepen that day, and there did seem to be an element of grieving within my strong emotions.
Knowing I had to get to my daughter’s science fair, I summoned all the get-it-together-ness I could muster and headed out, still wiping at my smeared mascara and puffy eyes. It didn’t work. I’m not good at being dishonest about my feelings. I recognized other moms and children there, and when they smiled at me, I know the pain showed on my face. One of them locked glances with me, and at the point of lock-in, the faucet turned up a notch – in a public place no less. I felt wholly embarrassed, for myself as well as for my daughter, who was obviously confused.
The minute I was back in the van, the dam unleashed. I was frozen at the steering wheel, no longer holding back. I just let it be what it was before daring to turn on the ignition. Eventually, I collected myself and went to a coffee shop to have a bite to eat and read a book. This marked the turning point.
The book, Never Give Up: My Life and God’s Mercy, is authored by John Janaro. I thought it rather ironic a few weeks back when I lost this book after a having read only a couple chapters. “So much for never giving up,” I’d thought then. But it turned up in a garage dig over the weekend, and when I opened it up to where I had left off, I quickly realized the reason it had been misplaced. I would not have appreciated the words before me two weeks earlier.
In his book, Janaro, who has suffered from several chronic ailments, including depression and the horrid effects of Lyme disease, makes a distinction between grumbling and lamenting (p.70):
“Both can express themselves as, ‘God, why are you doing this to me?’ But they mean two different things. The lament is a prayer; read the Psalms. It is a cry of pain – that pain that a creature feels under the weight of the transforming pressure of the divine Creator and Lover, who carries out his mysterious plan in my life via an incomprehensible suffering. The grumble, on the other hand, is a loss of trust in God motivated by my own misery. It gets me forty more years in the desert – read the book of Exodus.”
Powerful stuff, I thought, immediately recognizing my earlier outpouring as full-on lament, for there were no feelings of blame toward God within my cries, despite my anguish.
Soon after I started reading, I had a conversation that began to set things right even more. And then, a dear friend wrote some words in an email that brought me comfort: “I think you have a beautiful and important message for the world,” she said. “Don’t hold it back because your Devil Committee is having a party in your brain. Listen to the Angel voices.” She was referring to a recent post of hers entitled, “The Committee.” I knew exactly what she was talking about. Her words meant everything.
And then a card came in the mail from my mother with a message on the outside cover: “God’s grace will see you through.” The inside said, “Find strength in the promise that you are not alone, for God is walking every step of the journey with you.” And in the left-hand corner, a Scripture verse: “Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed…for Thou are my praise.” (Jeremiah 17:14)
The day progressed, and I was beginning to feel more whole, a healing in the works. But what really sealed the deal was when I curled up in bed to catch up on email messages with my laptop, and my sweet seven-year-old plopped down next to me, wrapped his arms around me, breathed in deeply, and said, “I love you, Mom,” with utmost sincerity.
“We must trust God to give us what we need to sustain hope and to grow in the capacity to respond to his mysterious love with our own self-abandoning love,” Janaro says later on in the chapter. “Let us trust in the inspired lamentations (of the Holy Spirit), by which we pour out our hearts so that God might fill them.” (My emphasis…)
Through my friends and family channeling His omnipotent love for me, God did, indeed, fill my heart back up. Thank you, dear Lord, eternal source of Love!
When has your lamenting turned a corner by God’s grace? What were the signs God gave to assure you He was with you in your sorrow?