The Bravest Thing EP by More Than Rubies, with five songs written around themes in my memoir, is on repeat at my house. Just ask my husband. Or maybe don’t. But since the music has meant so much to me, for the next five weeks, I want to talk about each song and why it is in this project.
The title track, The Bravest Thing, featuring Ellie Holcomb is about lament. In my suffering, I have often pretended to be fine. Even after something devastating has happened. Often it’s to avoid further conversation because I don’t want to look weak or to fall apart in front of people. But other times, I don’t even know how I’m doing because I’ve pushed my pain down in an effort not to think about it. In both cases, I look like I have it all together. But I don’t.
I vividly remember someone telling me that the most incredible woman she’d ever met didn’t shed a tear after her husband died. She was steadfastly trusting God. It sounded noble and faithful, but it whispered to me that I shouldn’t show, or maybe even have, distressing emotions if I wanted other people to think I was brave. But I’ve since learned that the bravest thing in suffering is authenticity – being real with God, with ourselves and with others.
Lament means honestly talking to God
Being honest with God is critical if we want to find true healing. He is the source of lasting comfort, and just as in human relationships, vulnerable conversations draw us closer. With our friends, when we disengage or pretend that we aren’t upset when we are, our walls go up and we slowly drift apart. It is the same way with God. When we lament, we are drawn into a deeper place with the Lord as we acknowledge the painful realities of our life. If you’ve never done that, try writing at the top of a piece of paper the words, “How long O Lord?” and list everything that is hard, everything you are tired of waiting for, everything you want changed in the world and in your life. And after you’ve written for five minutes or more, write the words, “But you O God.” Then write what you know to be true about God from the Bible or from personal experience.
The Psalms give us words when we have none of our own
We need self-awareness to know what we are feeling underneath the façade we often put up. The Lord knows our thoughts better than we do, and we can invite him to search our hearts for us (Psalm 139:23, Romans 8:27). But even then, we may not have words to express how we are feeling. Reading the Psalms aloud can help give voice to our deepest emotions. The Psalms are shockingly candid and show us that God invites our candid conversation. As we incorporate the language of the psalmists, we’ll find the freedom and the words to be real with God while developing a bedrock trust that he’ll never let us go, regardless of how we feel in the moment. Some lament psalms I turn to are Psalm 6, Psalm 13, Psalm 69, Psalm 130 and Psalm 142.
Our sincere lament can help others
It takes courage to tell people how we are actually doing and what we are actually thinking. But after we have lamented with God, it’s easier to share our true feelings with others, including our weaknesses, fears and questions. Or to simply sit with our friends and cry, without explaining anything. We don’t need to be afraid that others will think less of us or that our candor will shake their faith. When we’re looking to God, crying out to him to help us, people will get a front row seat to see the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. They will see how the Lord meets us in our pain. And that will draw others to the Lord much more than mouthing religious sounding words with a heart that’s disconnected from God.
Pour out your heart before God – it’s the bravest thing
Pour out your heart before God (Psalm 62:8) and don’t try to rush past your pain. Read the Psalms, the prayer book of the church, and let those words become your own. Trust that God hears and cares about every little detail. He keeps count of your tossings and holds your tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Be gentle with yourself. God is gentle with you. Don’t rush your grief along. Invite God into your pain. Just sit with him. Lean into the Lord and let your broken heart breathe. It’s the bravest thing.
Used with permission of the author, Vaneetha Risner.