Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Another Holiday passed unspent with loved ones. One more cancellation added to the litany of others during our global pandemic restrictions that ramped up once again this November. Our collective disappointments have become unrelenting and for some downright debilitating.
As we head into the Christian season of Advent I am finding it a challenge to open my heart to long for and patiently await the soon and coming King, Jesus, the Christ. Most years my heart is light and eager to engage in the traditions of my childhood faith that have formed my mature spirituality. This year is different. Yet, is it really?
Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick, but a sudden good break can turn life around. ~ Proverbs 13:12 MSG
Something in me keeps tugging at my memory of the scriptures and Old Testament stories of God's people enduring suffering and difficult times as we are today. This truth doesn't seem to help, I know. Yet, I encourage you to be willing to look up from your grief for just a few moments and consider that the very thing that encouraged believers for thousands of years past may be able to help you and I today. Just maybe...
If we take the time to browse through the book of Psalms you will get a good picture of the state of a people crying out in anguish to their God. In fact, 70% of the 150 psalms are a sacred song or hymn of lamenting by an individual or the nation. Hmm, this sounds familiar. Are not our current lives filled with numerous reasons to cry out to God in our current turmoil from the unceasing chaos, change, shut-downs, and cancellations?
It is important that in this very moment we are not found stuffing our feelings like the Thanksgiving turkey eaten in the quiet and somberness of last week. Maybe you experienced the joy of the festivities like most years, but this was not the case for many. I will admit that though I shared my Holiday table with three of my four children and four of my six grandchildren, I still was harboring an inner glowing ember of sadness and anger. The truth is that I experienced joy and sadness simultaneously. I had smoldering angst of a suppressed disappointment of the past 9 months of not being able to hug my mother and father that are still in quarantine. I know that I am one among many in this dilemma.
I had planned to fly out to visit my remaining son and family in Pittsburgh but had to cancel that trip last minute due to the intensified social restrictions placed upon Pittsburgh in the last few weeks. I of course accepted my son's request to cancel and reschedule my visit as I understood his caution and need to follow the implied protocol of his city officials. Oh well, the fact that I had already contracted and recovered from the Covid-19 virus meant nothing at this moment.
I noticed that my body was holding the brunt of my feelings deep within my stomach and lower back. Recognizing that my feelings were a result of my thoughts and were soon to influence my behavior, I chose to do a check-in with myself. I do this by journaling. I take a pen and intentionally start writing about my immediate emotional state and trust that I will be able to connect the dots of feelings to thoughts to new thoughts that will influence new feelings and hopefully the desired outcome of behavior.
Yet, our bodies don't lie. Our real issues are in our tissues. We can't heal from what we don't recognize and acknowledge.
I needed to come to grips with the anger rising within me to the point of disdain and or loathing. I can be dangerous when my feelings at this level are unchecked, unprocessed, ignored, and stuffed. If you are like me, I do not have much more room inside to stuff the feelings of disappointments, fear, sadness, discouragement, and despair. I need to do what my forefathers and mothers did before me, open my mouth and cry out to my God, the Great I Am who is never unnerved at the intensity of my feelings. In fact, our loving Father seems to turn toward his children when they cry out to him, similar to a mother who responds to the whimpers and cries of her trembling littles.
So, as we head into the Advent season let us remember that it is a season of discernment. We are invited to discern what is real individually and what is real corporately for the kingdom of our loving Father and his Son, Christ Jesus, our older brother and demonstrated by the Holy Spirit through you and me. Scream and cry if you need to, they did.
A David Psalm | 13 MSG
1-2 Long enough, God—you’ve ignored me long enough.
I’ve looked at the back of your head long enough. Long enough I’ve carried this ton of trouble, lived with a stomach full of pain. Long enough my arrogant enemies have looked down their noses at me.
3-4 Take a good look at me, God, my God; I want to look life in the eye, So no enemy can get the best of me or laugh when I fall on my face.
5-6 I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms—I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers.
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