In Feb of this year (2018), I was asked to present on a topic for the spiritual track of ICCM (International Conference on Computing and Mission). I was nearing the end of a book called “No More Faking Fine” by Esther Fleece that was constantly on my mind, so I presented my take on the book as an option and the powers that be thought it sounded like a great topic for the conference.
Some of us are really good at “faking fine” while inside we are nowhere near fine. We’ve been trained by society to hide how we really are and instead answer the question, “How are you doing?” with “Fine and you?” no matter what.
The thing is, we don’t always have to be fine because sometimes life sucks. Everyone experiences times where life seems to knock us down and then continue to kick us while we are there. Nobody would expect you to get up and say you are fine after being beaten, so why do we do it when we are figuratively beaten?
When life sucks, we are allowed to be sad. Look at Peter in Luke 22:62. Right after betraying Jesus (which he was told he would do and promised it wouldn’t be the case) it says “And he went out and wept bitterly.” Peter wasn’t going to be able to brush off the tear and say something was in his eye. That dude wept, and there was no hiding it. His life sucked at that very moment. He let himself down. He let his Savior down. He let his friend down.
So why don’t we feel free to lament, as Ether Fleece calls it. Why don’t we allow ourselves to feel bad and share it with God and with others? There could be a multitude of reasons, but how we’ve been trained is probably a major one. We’ve been trained that “Men don’t cry” or “A strong woman is one who is able to smile this morning like she wasn’t crying last night.”
Stop me if you’ve heard this one after experience a break-up or a loss in the family. “It’ll get better.” That’s all fine and good, but what about the right here and now? What about during the time of grief? God has a different message. He says, “Blessed are those that mourn…” (Matthew 5:4). Note that it doesn’t say Pitied are those that mourn, kicked in the pants are those that mourn, pathetic are those that mourn, weak are those that mourn.
When we lament, as Esther Fleece says, we surrender to God’s sovereignty. We trust that even though we are in the midst of the suck, that He is listening. It might take us a while to fully give our troubles and worries to Him, but lamenting is a step in the right direction.
Turning lamenting into joy is the most important part though so how do we turn our questioning and frustrations into joy? We need to turn to God, remember what He has done for us and look towards the promises He has made us. We also need community. God’s plan for us is to be in community. Notice that ever Jesus died, Peter was still with the disciples and they were all grieving together (John 20:1-4).
The key, as part of the community, is to allow someone time to lament without shaming them. Their emotions are valid, so be there with them.
Communities are the support we need to hold us up when we can’t hold ourselves up. A place we should feel free to share truth and to be loved.
God designed communities to be a part of our lives. There are people in your lives who you know are hurting. They may be in mourning, they may feel unloveable, they may hate their lives, hate what they’ve done, or who they think they are. Today and every day we need to reach out to them, because they may never reach out to us. Reach out to them, share their pain and remind them that you love them, and more importantly, that God loves them. Period, there is not but, and , or if. Nothing that happens to them or that they have done will change that.
I challenge you right now, that if someone popped into your mind right now, reach out to them this instant.
If you, yourself need to be reminded of that love and need someone to remind you that you are loved, know this, even if we never meet, there is love in my heart for you. You are loved by the creator of the universe. He knows you better than you know yourself and He loves you.
*If you are interested in reading Esther’s book, I highly recommend it.
**Thanks to Esther Fleece for allowing me to truly process what it means to lament and remind me the importance of community.
***Thanks to Unsplash for the pictures that beautifully illustrated my points.