God has currently been working me through a period of lamenting and learning about the importance of lament. This is a repost of something I originally wrote on Grace & Feminism when I was a contributor there. This was originally posted on August 18, 2017.
I should have been gone for eight months now.
By gone, I don’t mean dead, I mean on the trip of a lifetime. I was going to be on the World Race, with this tiny little squad that had become family. We were going to be working as missionaries through 12 countries in 11 months, seeking God and letting him guide our steps. Training Camp had been a real doozy, but we were stronger, and I was committed to working on myself more so that I would be my best self when I went. The only thing was, I still had to raise $5,000 more to reach my pre-launch goal.
And then I did it. With 3 days before my money being due, I hit that $10,000 mark, and I’ve never felt my faith so strongly in the Lord. He delivered! Just like He said He would. I hit every deadline before it was due, this is what faith in Him looks like.
Until the very next day, when it was all taken from me. I got a phone call from one of my coaches that the leadership team had decided I would not be launching in January. They would not allow me to launch with another squad even, I was essentially, cut. I could, however, attempt to go at another time, but there was no guarantee that this wouldn’t happen again. Three weeks from when I was supposed to be leaving. I had nowhere to live, and my job at a startup was unable to afford employees any longer. I was homeless, and jobless, with everything all set for me to leave the country for a year.
The person who told me made me promise them that I would call them back the next day when I’d “calmed down”.
I didn’t keep that promise.
I was told to go to God, and one of my teammates who was confused about the whole situation was told part of the problem was that I called him, and didn’t go try and reconcile all of this with God. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t want to talk to God. God and I were in a fight. He promised me that I would be there! He delivered on those financial deadlines! He showed up at Training Camp when I didn’t think I could complete the physical task, and showed me that there are people in this world that wouldn’t give up on me. Well, until it felt like they did. And until it felt like He did.
The leadership at training camp had decided that I was an “angry person”, which is what they told me. I’d never been told that before, in fact, almost everyone who interacts with me tends to call me one of the kindest people they’ve met. I have a bit of sass at times, but I’ve never felt that being angry was at the core part of who I was. But those words haunted me as I started that season of my life. That anger was wrong, that being angry at God was really really wrong, and this just proved them right. That I was this terrible, angry person who shouldn’t be helping anyone.
Have you ever had your heart broken? And I don’t just mean like, Sirius Black dying in “Order of the Phoenix” heart broken. I mean, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, you burst into tears at random moments. You FaceTime your friends who look on at you helplessly as you both try to understand what happened and why, but neither of you have answers. I mean the kind of heartbroken that takes months of recovering from. Where you have to actually defriend people that you love and care about in order to heal because otherwise it’s just continued salt in the wound.
That was this kind of heartbreak. I’ve never wanted anything as bad as I wanted the World Race. I never pushed myself that hard, and out of my comfort zone, as I did to feel worthy enough to go on that adventure. And then, I was told I wasn’t good enough. And it felt like every single fear that I’ve ever had about myself became real.
Platitudes like “God always has a plan” didn’t help. And what was even worse is that friends of mine who were non-believers, felt that this just affirmed the fact that Christians were dicks. I felt torn between two worlds. The Christian world that was telling me if I only sought peace from God then I’d feel okay, and the World, which told me I had every right to be angry and should sue.
I knew in my heart, that I needed to let myself be angry at God. I needed to let that anger out. I needed to ask Him the hard questions and yell and scream at Him. I needed to cry through worship songs that felt so fake and untrue. I remember telling multiple friends, “I get it now, I get why people stop believing in God.” The pain was so real, and the most painful thing I’ve ever been through. I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, partially, I think, because of the fear of being heartbroken. Well that feeling still found a way in, and suddenly so many things made sense about heartbreak.
I did my best to pick up my life that felt like it was in shambles, and move forward. A friend would let me stay with her until I could get a place of my own. I didn’t have a bed, but I had a sleeping pad and bag that I could sleep on until I could afford one of those. My team was off to Indonesia, and I wasn’t. I refused to sign up for another trip out of fear that the exact same thing would happen. I didn’t trust them anymore, and they hadn’t really given me any reason to trust them any further. I found a job, and was happy making my life in Los Angeles.
It was then that I stumbled across a book called “No More Faking Fine” by Esther Fleece, which introduced me to the concept of lamenting. I had a habit of reading a chapter of a Christian book every night on the Subway ride home, and using all my other commute time to whatever fiction book I could get my hands on. In the book, Fleece writes:
Lament, he said, is simply expressing honest emotions to God, when life is not going as planned. Whether we’re hurt, frustrated, confused, betrayed, overwhelmed, sad, or disappointed, lament is the language God has given us to talk to Him right in the middle of life’s messes. It’s real talk with God when you’re hurting, when all you can do is cry out for His help. It’s a prayer that says, God, I’m hurting-will you meet me here? And as such, it is a prayer to which God always responds.”
Now, I haven’t been a Christian for a long time, but long enough to know I had never heard a pastor speak on this before. And as Fleece’s book went on, it felt like she was speaking directly to me. I learned about lamenting, and how it was healthy. God is so big, he can take my anger, and I know he was hurting with me. And maybe this sounds like you, maybe you have some anger towards God that you’re still working through. That’s okay. I’m with you. How is it that we have an entire book in the bible called “Lamentations” and yet…we never talk about lamenting?
Lamenting is a process, and it’s not linear, and sometimes it rears its ugly head when you least expect it. The Lord saved my life by not sending me on the World Race. I was diagnosed with an extremely rare brain condition on what would have been Month 3 of my trip, and I would have most likely stroked out and died had I been on the field. And yet, I was still mourning the loss of something I loved and wanted so dearly. In fact, what I realized I was lamenting, is that I was so tired of God using me for other people to find strength.
I know that sounds dumb, but it was emotionally exhausting. I want God to use me, I want to be a beacon of His light, but man, do you know how taxing it can be when you’re the one inspiring others because of how crappy your life is over a period of four months? In fact, this realization, is what created Grace & Feminism. I share now the original, unfinished post that I created. It never got finished because I couldn’t stop crying long enough to finish it. However, I can say that I’m at peace now, and closer with God than I ever have been. I like to think it’s because I allowed myself to yell at him, and Him to show me that He wasn’t going anywhere, despite my anger.
“Title: I’m Still Mad at God for Using Me
Dated: May 2017
A year ago today, I sat, saddened as my original missions team was getting ready to leave for training camp. I hadn’t had much success in connecting with the new team that I was going to take on the world with in January, and found myself really hungry for community. I’d hear after training camp was over that my original team was much tighter than others because of the community I’d helped foster, which made me step up into that even more, only to create a really amazing family before my very own training camp day would come in October.
I left training camp with people I felt like were family. People that I would grow to love and would grow to love me in some cases, but a family. I’ve struggled with family, I didn’t have contact with my biological family for probably about two years, so this was something new, and beautiful. I couldn’t wait to push myself out of my comfort zone more and more and grow with them. But I never got to do that and I’m still mad about it.
The funny thing too, is that God has shown me a huge reason why I didn’t get to go. Why I wasn’t meant to go with that team, and that’s because I would have died. Two months after I was supposed to launch, I experienced terrible migraines that turned out to not be migraines, but an extreme increase in cranial pressure. I ended up experiencing a major healing of the Lord, and stand today completely healed against all odds. Had I been in Myanmar, or another country my team was in, I would have most likely died. They wouldn’t have been able to fly me to a hospital who could help, and it’s by His grace and love that I’m alive today.
But I’m still really really mad at Him. And honestly it feels really stupid. I thought I was over my lamenting period. I thought I’d gotten through it with the help of Esther Fleece’s book, but I haven’t. If not evidenced by the ten minute breakdown I just had as I typed this. I wanted this so bad. More than anything I’ve ever wanted. I pushed myself, and saw the unimaginable happen as I hit my goals in time, just as the Lord promised.
But then it was gone. And I’m still really mad that I’m not on the field. I’m really sad as I see the Instagrams of my teammates because I wanted to be there. I wanted to do that work. I wanted to be with them. Yet through it all, people have been inspired by my story, my story of me losing this trip in what I can only compare to as the biggest heartbreak and despair in my life, and my healing from the Lord in March. I know I should be celebrating this, that people are seeing the Lord in my experiences, and drawing strength from Him, even if it’s unknowingly.”
Lamenting is a process. It’s not easy, and one of the reasons I wanted to share this unfinished post with you is that sometimes the process of lamenting is unfinished. It’s hard, especially in a world where we are told that by lamenting we’re questioning God and sinning. God is with us, all of us, and me, especially in those moments when you yell at him “I’M TIRED OF YOU USING MY PAIN TO HELP OTHER PEOPLE. I NEED SOMETHING GOOD!”. He’s still there. Right there, by your side.
I’ve mentioned it a few times, but Esther Fleece’s book really saved me during this time. I can’t say I’d be in a healthy place with God without it. You can find her website here, and she even has a free lamenting page, so you can learn more about it, but also work through your own period of lamenting.
God won’t leave you when you’re angry at him. He’s slow to anger. He loves you, and He hurts with you. Let your anger out, let yourself lament, let yourself ask why, and if anyone tells you it isn’t Biblical? Remind them that there’s an entire book in the Bible named about it.