Can you call to mind one of the saddest, hardest stories of your life? Will you?
Now, imagine that I ask you to sing of it. What melody would make its way forth? What tones would capture the depth of emotion held within those painful scenes?
This is lament: a dirge, a wailing, a sorrowful song that expresses deep grief and mourning. And something we resist at nearly every turn.
Lament is (at least part of ) your song. It’s beautiful – and worth singing.
For most of us this is a foreign concept. Instead, we’ve bought into more socially acceptable ways of thinking/being:
- Look for the silver lining.
- All things work together for good…
- The sun will come out tomorrow.
- If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
- What’s done is done.
I’m not necessarily in disagreement with these axioms. But in and of themselves, they keep us deafened to the songs that deserve to be sung; that you deserve to sing.
Your story – every single note – is worth singing. Especially those dissonant, not-quite-X-Factor-ready tunes. And for those of you less musically inclined, this: Your story – every word, every phrase, every sentence, every paragraph, every page – is worth telling. Especially, those between-the-lines scenes you’ve kept under wraps.
Everyone has agonies. The difference is that I try to take my agonies and teach them to sing.
Agonies. Lament. Sung or told. This is what enables the freedom and hope you most deeply hunger for. There’s no other way through.
We can’t laugh heartily unless we know how to cry. We can’t be fearless unless we know the taste of fear. We can’t be happy if we’re afraid to feel sad. Our faith is not faith until it’s tested. To be at peace, we have to be at home with all our emotions, to get comfortable with vulnerability.
~Miriam Greenspan, Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair
When lament is sung, told, and heard, vast and infinite gifts await.
- When welcomed by those who have an ear for its beauty (as well as the capacity, maturity, and wisdom deserved) you realize that you are not too much.
- Chains are broken, truth is told, and healing rushes in.
- Past relational wounds are uncovered and allowed to breathe; new relational patterns are given room to take root and grow.
- Once-necessary, but now-outgrown coping mechanisms are allowed to be put to rest.
- Fear subsides and courage builds.
- Trust and even a sense of innocence returns.
- Your lament gives others permission to sing their own.
This is just the start. What once felt removed, sectioned off, even secretive and hidden becomes the very thing that most profoundly shapes your strength, your desire, your passion. And as time goes on, your story and song changes. No longer is it exclusively dissonant or painful, but a gorgeous, haunting melody; a single lyric that becomes structural stanza to an entire score – a fugue, a concerto, a symphony, a life.
Allow yourself to sing your sadness – these songs of lament. They are of such aching beauty that all of creation hearkens to hear, breathless in anticipation of what you will offer, who you will reveal, what reverie will yet pour forth.
We will be transfixed. Angelic choirs will be hushed. And you will hear music where once there was none.