Lament is defined as "a passionate expression of grief or sorrow".
For weeks now, I have been looking forward to this season of Lent. With excitement almost; the complete opposite emotion of what Lent usually stirs up. I've been flirting with grief for quite some time now, and having the opportunity to fully embrace it feels comforting and right.
Because, for a few days, 40 to be exact, it is perfectly acceptable to live in a world of sadness and sorrow. In fact, Lent is the season to be, as the definition so clearly points out, passionate about our sadness and sorrow.
Passion is defined as "a strong and barely controllable emotion".
Imagine a season in which we are invited to sit with strong and uncontrolled grief or sorrow. Can we even do this? In a culture that encourages us to "think happy thoughts", "let go of sad thoughts that bring you down", "spread good vibes"... such nonsense... where is the message of wading through hard and painful emotions?
But if I have learned anything in the last 18 months of sitting with grief, it's that we need to do it. There are no other alternatives for healing or wholeness than sitting in the darkest places.
Our "happiness" culture has gotten this one so very wrong. The "you can fix yourself in 5 easy and pain-free steps with this flaky mantra" is so very damaging.
Because, there is no quick and easy fix. There is no phrase that said hourly will make your child stop doing drugs. There is no flashy book written that will bring your spouse back to your marriage. There is no essential oil that will take away your decades long battle with depression.
There is no amount of mushrooms that I can eat that will take away my terminal cancer.
There is no quick fix for grief. And there is no healthy forward movement without looking that grief and sorrow full in the face and acknowledging it's presence in your life.
And would you believe it? Every year, we are given 40 days dedicated to the passionate embrace of our grief and sorrow. So, even if we've been avoiding it for the whole rest of the year, we have a chance, in this season to grab it by the throat and engage.
It's completely freaky. Engaging in this will most likely undo you. It could get ugly-cry nasty. Painful memories will surface and break your heart. You will feel the discomfort of vulnerability and the scorch of shame. It will suck.
And... and... because there's always an and... it will be so wonderful.
Because, the second meaning of the word passion is "the suffering and death of Jesus".
And why did Jesus die? To SAVE us! To take away our pain and suffering. To be the one to sit with us in our seasons of passionate expressions of grief and sorrow. His death is what undoes our need for grief and sorrow.
The Passion of Christ is the embodiment of our grief and sorrow. In going to the cross, He took it all on Himself that we may be free. Free!
Free to sing and dance with joy. Free to celebrate life. Free to live fully.
Ah, a "strong and barely controllable emotion" of joy fills me just thinking on this. It is almost too much to put into words. There is no eloquence that can do it justice.
But, before we celebrate, we must mourn. Before we remember the resurrection, coming alive, we must pass through the valley of the shadow of death. For joy does not exist without knowing sorrow. Peace does not come without spending time with our grief.
So, I invite you to join me in this painful process of "expressing strong and barely controlled grief and sorrow". That in 40 days, we may emerge comforted and aware of the love that surrounds us. Perhaps there will be healing. Perhaps not. Perhaps there will be growth. Perhaps not. But I would pray for each one of us, that we would know, without a doubt that we are precious and worth dying for.
In this season, take the muddied and treacherous road to the foot of the cross. Traverse the dry and lonely places. Climb the highest mountains and wade through the roaring rivers. Find those trusted journey partners and set out with that cross in the distance, knowing you'll find rest at the end of your travels.
And then, in 40 days when the hard, sad work is done, together, we will celebrate. A life resurrected and a love deeper than any we can image.