Sophia had a meltdown last night. 20+ minutes of straight-from-the-gut, banshee wailing. She could not be consoled. She went to our bed to do it, throwing her whole body into her cry, her wet face smooshed into the pillow. I was so glad she picked John-Mark’s side.
Really, I should have seen it coming. She’s been overtired since the start of school two weeks ago and we’ve been going strong daytime and evening, no rest. Keeping a fast-paced schedule can be tough stuff for a free-spirited junior higher who craves spare time, especially when she has to make her own lunch every day, walk to school, do her homework, keep her room clean, get along with her sister, and shine her little light.
There was no anger in her cry, just… lament.
I dared to ask her what was wrong.
“NOT ANYTHING! WAAAAAHHHHH!”
A more honest cry has never been given. I rubbed her back and let her let it out.
Last night I decided not to go to Day 4 of 5 our nightly meetings for our week of prayer at the church. I’ve been promoting these prayer meetings like a maniac for everyone else to attend, you must go. And now look at me, not showing up. But I couldn’t make Sophia do one more thing last night and I just knew she needed me – it’s the way she said, “I NEED YOU!” that clued me in.
On an aside, I believe these are the decisions that will keep my children from hating the church when they’re older for taking away their parents from them. They may hate the internet, though, and that crazy blog Mom used to keep and share all our family secrets.
Yesterday’s prayer assignment was about silence, listening to God by meditating on scripture. I decided to open up Jeremiah. The Gungor song, Dry Bones, made me do it. I listened to this song yesterday and, honestly, when I heard the words, “My soul cries out,” it hit me somewhere way down deep.
This week of prayer has been especially meaningful and enriching, as I wrote about yesterday. But it’s also opened up some wounds. Some places I’ve protected. I’ve closed them off as sacred places because they’re about ministry – too sacred to tell God? I was being nudged by the Spirit to lament even though you’re supposed to be joyful about working for the Lord, no?
Yes, I am joyful. But what is also true is that there is an inherent loneliness that accompanies ministry – ironic since so many of us who work in ministry feel this way. The lament is for this foolish passion that God has given us. Many people will not understand and some may even despise you for it. There is a particular weight of responsibility unique to your calling.
Oh, that lament!
Jeremiah understood it:
…the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot…
And to be truthful, that’s what I want. More of it even. Lord, make me LONELY, I asked on Day 4 of a prayer week. Lonely I can place on the altar with my lament. It is a sacrifice I can offer God.
Just a couple more verses down and Jeremiah’s all:
Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.
This loneliness, this weighty responsibility, when put on the altar with a lament, burns up with our praises for Him.
We started the prayer week with lament and are ending it with praise. What I’ve learned over the course of the week is that the two are tied so closely together: the beauty of the lament is that it is always accompanied by praise; praise effectively opens our hearts to hear from God; through our praise, God shines his light into those areas of our hearts that need to be put on the altar, our lament.
“Father, WE NEED YOU!”
Praise his glorious name, he lets us let it out.