An Advent Lament: SheLoves

My friend Kelley Nikondeha and I are writing about lament this month at one of our favorite places — SheLoves Magazine. It seems fitting for lament to be a central piece of Advent, maybe especially this Advent. This piece starts off our series of four. On Saturday, Kelley will respond to this individual lament. Then she will write a community lament next Tuesday and I’ll respond the following Saturday. Our psalter is rich with both kinds of sad songs — written from one person’s perspective and also, from the community’s. Please join us as we walk through these songs in the days before Christmas.

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Each December, we find ourselves in a season of waiting. Primarily, we wait for that baby to be born, to break through the bonds of water and blood and slither down into the dust from which we all emerged. We wait for the baby, the infant conqueror, the one who shows up not as mighty warrior but as a small and helpless human person.

It is the most remarkable story ever told, this one we share.  Scandalous, even ludicrous — a grand and mighty God showing up, looking like the rest of us, squalling, searching for sustenance, blinking against the light. The birth of a baby is always cause for celebration, and this one certainly deserves to be celebrated.

And yet, there is also an undercurrent of sadness swirling beneath the pretty decorations and the sweet smells. An undercurrent that rattles around in my soul and lurks in the corners of my heart, pushing me to pay attention, to make room. Room for the babe in the manger, yes. But also, room for the painful details, both then and now, room for the tears, the anguish, the questions and the loss.

Because there is always loss, isn’t there? This journey we’re on is littered with broken hearts, with pocketed tears and too many regrets. So I wonder — this Christmastime, amid the major key sounds of the pop music that bombards us everywhere we go, can we also make room for the echo of an oboe, can we sit with some minor chords that might not resolve anytime soon?

Truth be told, there are pieces of our Christmas story that would not sell many Hallmark cards: a captive nation, refugees on the road, poverty, homelessness, murderous kings and the wholesale slaughter of little boys. And right now, this year, amid the joyous gathering of family, the feasting, the children’s sweet singing, the giving of gifts, there are so many swallowed tears, there are questions, there is sadness.

There is, most assuredly, room for lament:

And so, I sing the hard news as well as the good,
the edges as well as the center.
And I sing it all to you, O Lord — to whom else can I go?

Hear me, O Lord. Hear my cry!
Here is the truth: those we love leave us, Lord.
They leave us in all kinds of painful ways:
     they die, suddenly or after long suffering;
     they betray us with false words and false hearts;
     they get lost in the thicket of mental illness.

Sometimes we lose ourselves, too, O God:
     we do battle with addictions;
     we wrestle with confusion;
     we sink into depression or anxiety.

Too often, those who say they love you,
     betray you with their words and their actions.
     And sometimes, the betrayer is me. . .

To read the rest of this lament, please click here to join us at SheLoves today. . .

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