The beginning of a new year often brings a renewed sense of hope for the year ahead. We look back at the previous year of loss and joy and usually decide that we are grateful for the year that we lived or grateful that it is over. Sometimes we wrap a ribbon around the box that we’ve placed the year in and tie it up in a big bow. The ribbon can be sparkly and beautiful or dark and tattered, but it still gets the job done as it closes the box, bringing a sense of closure as we look forward.
My ribbon for 2015 didn’t do a very good job of closing up my box, and I feel as if I spilled over into this fresh new year carrying more than I had hoped. As I silently pondered on New Years Eve, I considered resolving or choosing a word to pray into this year, but my mind only spun thinking about the previous twelve months.
The end of the year culminated with a highly anticipated trip back to my hometown to visit family and friends. As we flew out that Saturday, I was aware that I held a fair amount of anxiety for the week ahead. I had prepared, prepped and requested in an attempt to reduce the chaos that would naturally be present for our crew outside the safety of our own home.
Each moment that week seemed to hold both beauty and sadness, which is often the case when living in the tension of life.
My introspective soul was not quite prepared for all that there was to feel that week and as I sat on the plane to return home I reached for my headphones to help drown out the flood of thoughts racing through my mind.
I jumped around through my songs hoping to land on something that would touch the ache in my heart. I stopped when I got to “No Longer Slaves” by Bethel.
Bethel Music – No Longer Slaves from Pedro A. Deffanti Junior on Vimeo.
The bridge began to build with melodious woahs and my tears started rolling down my face. If you would have looked to the last row on the plane, you might have seen a slightly crazed woman with closed eyes, punching the air and silently shouting the lyrics, “You split the sea so I could walk right through it. You drown my fears in perfect love. You rescued me so I can stand and say I am a child of God.”
Remembering these truths encouraged me for a short while, but I as began to enter back into life with the challenges of parenting and work coupled with the mixed emotions from the previous week I found myself extremely broken.
I began looking for affirmation from those that were close to me but as I sat on the couch one night, talking to my husband, I admitted that no one’s words seemed to be touching the spaces in my heart that were feeling vulnerable. In my brokeness I cried out, recognizing that I really needed to hear from God, but I wasn’t even sure how.
A friend recently shared with me a message on lament. I have begun to name that there is loss when it comes to the “dreamed of” life that I once imagined. In that, there is a stream of grieving and loss that runs through my day to day life. But what am I supposed to do with that?
I decided to listen to the message recommended on lament. As the pastor spoke, his words started to quiet my anxious heart. He talked about lament being the cry of a hurting, confused, pain-filled, and yet believing heart. He spoke of the tension between God’s beautiful promises in comparison to real life. Lament is an expression of one’s faith voiced in the cries of “where are you God? Why is this happening? How long O Lord?” He reminded me that there is still hope in lament. We can struggle and question in our lament. We can be fruitful and happy and still lament.
Sometimes, I am more in touch with my unbelief. The places where I have grown silent in my requests, where despair is overwhelming. I’ve questioned my cries of lament. Questioned my faith. Wondered what God must feel about me asking why He had forsaken me. In the places where life hasn’t turned out like I had imagined I can lament, knowing that God longs to hear my heart. A heart that although confused and hurting can still be happy and hopeful.
A hope-filled heart is one that still believes in one day. One day I will…have another dream come true. I still have dreams. Dreams that require my creativity. Dreams that require my tenderness and my strength. Dreams that demand my lament and my faith.
Bethany Cabell is a Texas transplant, residing in Michigan with her husband and their two young boys. A lover of beauty, she lives life chasing after wide-open spaces: sharing her heart with others, in relationship with Jesus, and through music and photography. She tells her story here.
Dear Bethany, As I read your words, my mind forms a picture with layers of others stories you have shared. I’m longing to write a lament and prayer to God on your behalf for new dreams and new hope. Your words create a scene in my mind of a serene setting with a lovely woman resting in a hammock. Then I see slashes of red and black swirled over the serenity. I hope you can bless the lovely woman who lives courageously in the midst of lost dreams and rugged places.
Dear Valerie…thank you for all the layers that you hold as you engage with this stories. What a powerful image, thank you.
Thank you for this. I was raised to believe that lamenting meant you were dishonoring God, and lacked faith. This entry reminds me, as I relearn old beliefs, that lamenting is important, and ok. God is not afraid of our honesty, or the depth of our despair. I love this ” Lament is an expression of one’s faith voiced in the cries of “where are you God? Why is this happening? How long O Lord?” He reminded me that there is still hope in lament. We can struggle and question in our lament. We can be fruitful and happy and still lament.” You ministered to my heart. Thank you.
Renee, thank you. I love your honesty and I hope that you can cling tight to the promises for hope in your lament. Thank you for taking the time to share and write.
Bethany, Thank you for sharing your heart with such honesty as you learn what it looks like to hope in lament. Keep holding onto hope and to your one day. It will come in a surprising and unexpected way. I often wrestle with God and say, “I’m trusting that you know my heart better than I do, because this is NOT the desire of my heart, yet in Psalm 37:4 you say you will give me the desires of my heart if I delight in you.” I’m still learning what it means to delight and trust in the Lord.
Thank you also for the music that you share. Music speaks to my heart, and today especially, the song touched a place in me that was fearful and anxious. It was my turn to sit in tears in the privacy of my school office during a break in the work day. I appreciate you staying engaged in your struggle and for showing up even when it isn’t easy or comfortable. Every blessing!
Julie, thank you for your words. Oh what truth you share! I love hearing that this song was a blessing to your fearful and anxious heart…it is a powerful one. What a sweet picture of you in your office. Blessings!
Your lamenting feels beautiful and kind and so honoring….how long Oh Lord. While having others with us is so important it is true that the depth of our soul needs to hear from Him. I love your willingness to live with the ache that runs so deep and risk the vulnerability needed to share it with us. Lovely post B.
Beautifully written and tenderly expressed. I love that you have not given up on the one day for your dreams and your life. Love you, my friend.
Your heart is a deep well my friend. Thank you for your courage and your honesty. “A heart that is confused and hurting can also be happy and hopeful.” Such a beautiful testimony Bethany.
Bethany, this was an incredibly timely read for me and so deeply insightful. I had just met with a friend the night before whose husband has been walking a really tough road this past year. It continues into the new year. It became clear from what she shared that most of those in her Christian circle do not understand lament and allow space for it. In fact, we often handle someone’s lament poorly. Thank you for your vulnerability and honesty and also for your wisdom. It’s so important to give ourselves and others the grace and space to lament – “There is still hope in lament.”