After reading my post, “Handouts Do Not Equal Social Justice,” my friend Billy shared on Facebook that he dislikes my blog because I am often critical toward the church. This post is dedicated to Billy.
I could not sleep on Wednesday night and was up facebooking with Billy about why I am critical of the church. The main reason is that I see so much suffering and in the midst of it all the church seems so apathetic. I was having a little pity party via Facebook because no one responded to my post about my friend Al, which may or may not have been a bright idea. However, as I have shared in the past, I believe lament is a perfectly acceptable form of communication with God.
If I were a psalmist, my lament would have sounded something like this “Lord, why have you abandoned me? My brother is Christ is attacking me! People are starving all around me. Your body lies asleep in its crystal palace while your children cry out in the desert. Lord, where are you in my time of need?” Some may see the sharing of frustration with God as a lack of faith but others of you will find my willingness to be honest about the hard places of faith as refreshing. If you are the former, please refrain from preaching to me about waiting on God. You needn’t worry about me. The Holy Spirit has a way of slapping me upside the head without any commentary from human observers.
As you likely deduced from my blog titled “The Shadow of my Blog”, I got in a bit of hot water because of my blog titled “Ouch, that hurt!” At the time I wrote “Ouch”, I simply could not process all the pain I was feeling and as I shared in “Shadow,” I simply needed to lament.
Not only is the word lament not used in our culture, the actual practice is equally as neglected. We have become a plastic people. We are taught to control our emotions, hide our feelings. Those who express deep emotions are often labeled “emotionally unstable.” I don’t know if it is just American’s or if people everywhere have gradually sought to stifle emotion as a part of our human evolution.
If any of the prophets and many of the psalmists whose writings appear in the Old Testament were to appear on the scene today, I feel certain we would quickly commit them to a mental hospital or drug them with anti-depressants. We would suggest they have a glass of wine or perhaps a Valium. We would instruct them to only share their pain with their therapist and insist that they not “rock the boat.”
Over the past several months, the issue of depression has come up several times in our Embrace communities at all levels. It seems to me that depression has reached an epidemic level among all segments of our society; rich, poor, young, old, urban, suburban, male and female. I am not psychiatrist or a trained therapist but I wonder if by stifling our emotions if we might be emotionally damaging ourselves and others?