I love Thanksgiving.
It probably has a lot to do with eating your own bodyweight in food but it is also such a hopeful and happy holiday. Even if you don’t get to celebrate it officially, it seems to have got into people’s minds. What are you giving thanks for?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this. There is so much to be thankful for and to celebrate. But I haven’t felt fully able to. And I didn’t know why. Why, when so many good things are happening am I struggling to truly celebrate? Why have I not had the same issue in the past when perhaps life has been harder?
Well, it turns out that I need to lament to celebrate. I need to be able to pour out the fractures of my heart and cry out like the psalmist:
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Psalm 42:5
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts And day after day have sorrow in my heart? Psalm 13:2
My thankfulness, joy and worship have not been genuine because I have been suppressing my lament. My darkest fears, sadness and thoughts have been pushed further and further down. I want to cry and celebrate but don’t know how.
I wondered if anyone else had that experience. Not knowing where to go to pour out your heart so instead you kept it hidden. Kept it safe because if it came out (especially in public) it would be unstoppable. Uncontrollable. You’d be a mess. Who could handle that?
But surely those can’t be our options? Suppression or uncontrollable emotions.
Looking back at times when I’ve felt able to lament and celebrate the difference has been being given permission and space. Could they be the options?
We already have permission to lament. The Bible is full of lament and crying out which precedes the joy and thanksgiving. The Psalms, Job and Lamentations give us a great indicator of how to cry out. It is ok to not be ok. It doesn’t suggest your faith isn’t big enough or that you aren’t strong enough or that you are sorted enough.
It shows that you are human enough.
If we have permission then we need the space. It would be wonderful if that was in church. If we sat side by side and could allow lament to co-exist with celebration but perhaps we move quickly through the lament to get to the victory cries. Could we maybe linger a little longer to allow for space to grieve?
For me, in the past, the Tent was my space. A place to release the cries of your heart until there was no more to say. To let the tears flow and not be afraid if they didn’t stop. Because they always did. And then the laughter and joy could flow.
Or perhaps, we need to be that space to one another. To be prepared to hear one another’s lament and not try and fast forward to the joy.
Let the lament flow and the joy will come.
Why, my soul, are you downcast within me? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God. Psalm 42:5