Grief has visited me again. As you may have learned in this post, something has happened where I I could do no more than being a wife, mom, and a mediocre homemaker during the darkest of my days. Besides frying eggs, I could do nothing well. When I tried cooking another dish, I cursed them all by overcrowding the pan.
Naturally, my recourse in trying times is God’s Word. But to be completely honest, there were days when I simply could not read with energy and focus. I sometimes felt too limp to make sense of what I was reading. Clearly, the tribulation caused me to react differently as I normally would.
So the short of it is that I wasn’t much like myself the past few weeks. Which also includes the way I consumed praise and worship songs, online articles, beautifully lettered and carefully curated verses and quotes from inspirational books and on my feed. For context, I am one who, even when in a tight place, is energized and lifted by her lonesome close reading of the Bible. This time though, it was as if someone needed to speak my fears and faith for me. When I couldn’t utter words of praise and surrender myself, I found that other people’s writings and singing significantly helped me.
And this is why I think you probably need to write about your pain. Because some of the most powerful lines I’ve heard in the past few weeks, those that ministered deeply to me, were written and uttered by men and women of tragedies.
“It Is Well With My Soul” was composed by a man who lost four daughters to the sea. He wrote the song while he was passing through the very waters that took them all from him. It is also coincidental that my favorite global woman leader came out with a book about dealing with adversity, one who has known the grave motions of death herself; Sheryl Sandberg advises people never to ask grieving people “How are you?” Instead say, “How are you today?”
These are very small nuggets in the enormous days and weeks ahead a grieving person, but they help, a whole lot. They help because they give a voice to one’s sorrows, which could sometimes no longer be personally uttered under much pressure. They help because they nudge you a little closer to the hopeful front without being intrusive or hasty, happy to do so one baby step at a time. They help because they come with an air of patience and a rich context and depth of understanding which merits the eternal minutes of a person stricken with pain. Because while “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy,” (Proverbs 14:10), someone who has gone through the same or worse, comes a close second to one’s own. For when they say they know, you can’t argue, because they really do. After all, the songwriter really lost his daughters, and Sheryl really did lose her husband.
So when you can, write about your pain. But please don’t forget, also write hope. Because the last thing we want is a pity party or a misery club, but a place where we can convey both truth and love, sorrow and hope, company and courage.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
This was King David. Perhaps one of the most emotional writers we’ll find in the Bible. If he lived today, generalists would quickly label him as the emotional and entitled kind of millenial. (To be clear I don’t think it’s a millennial thing; every generation has its own emo and entitled kind. My generation had a lot of them, for sure.)
But you know what I like about him the most? Emotional as he sounds, he always, always ends his monologues with the rising action of hope and profound declaration of faith in the Lord. And in them, thousands of years after his own tragedies, I find solidarity and a worthy spokesperson of fear and faith, sorrow and joy, natural and supernatural.
So if you were wondering about the pain and hope within you, I encourage you, write them both and be a voice for those who cannot speak and think much in the moment of their deep sorrow.