with all Your waves.

A handful of people in my life know that I’m on a sort of soul healing journey, but now all of you will know. I won’t get into it all – just trying to work you up to where my thoughts are coming from today – but it’s about letting Jesus enter into places where wounds have happened in the past so He can redeem part of what’s been broken. Of course, this means peeling back the band-aids, picking at the scabs, getting to the wound and having it bleed all over again so He can stitch it up. Luckily, my church has a ministry where I get to do this in community, guided by people who have been through it before. It’s been a hard, blessed soul-seeking journey so far, and I am only about halfway through (with the class. I am told this becomes sort of a lifelong thing).

It’s part of the recommended list of things to do before becoming a missionary, but it’s become much more than checking off a box on the to-do list.

For the past week we’ve been talking about emotions (like how valuable it is to be able to name the actual emotion you’re feeling, and how emotions can be trusted. Who would have guessed that I – who grew up & lived in conservative Christian circles my whole life – would believe that emotions can’t be trusted?! Ha! *sarcasm, in case you didn’t read that*). Anyway, our assignment this week is to lament our biggest ungrieved loss. So far I’ve had several strong reactions to that.

1. “Whoaa, why does this have to be so heavy? I don’t want to have a bummer week because I’ve been thinking about what to lament. It just doesn’t sound like a good time.”

2. Pretty much denying that there are “important” things I haven’t grieved, and further doing the opposite of the *Christianese* pressing-in.

3. Igniting my brain’s waffle-mode, where I plan out when to focus on lamenting and be emotional when it’s most convenient for me. When it feels “safe.”

4. Suddenly having a hyper-emotional week anyway. Believe me, I know my body’s habits very well when it comes to my emotions, and my sudden needs to cry this week have been completely out of the blue. And sometimes public. It seems that God knows better than me when I need to do my homework and when I don’t.

So this morning I finally took the time to start sorting through it. I made a list of losses I can remember pretty well and tried to decide if I’ve grieved them or not. It was kind of overwhelming. Don’t think that because you’re young or your life hasn’t been dramatic that you don’t have major wounds from loss. We all lose a lot. Even the loss of the smallest thing can lead to the biggest wound, especially if it happened when you were a child.

The truth is, all of us have experienced the vast range of emotions that come with life, and I think we come to realize that fact more through life with Christ. I think walking closely with Him can help us experience emotions that we wouldn’t have an understanding of otherwise. I mean, just look at what Jesus did on the cross. Doesn’t that cause you joy AND anguish AND happiness AND sorrow AND a whole host of other things?  When we’re really in touch with THAT, or something He is doing in our lives, or how we’ve been wounded, or things He has told us, feelings can put us in a place where God wants us to be.

I read this morning in Psalm 88, a psalm of lament, “You have overwhelmed me with all Your waves.”

Yes. The waves of goodness, the waves of mercy. The waves of joy & delight. The waves of sorrow, of anguish. The waves of hunger for You. The waves of hurt for the lost. The waves of love that carry me through dark doubts about my worth and seasons of loneliness. You’ve overwhelmed me with both the good and the bad. Thank you, Jesus.

Emotions are a gift. They let us know we are deeper – we are more than flesh. And all the emotions under the “sadness” umbrella help us know what our wounds are, and when we know what our wounds are, we see God redeeming them. Letting myself feel the sadness, the grief, and whatever else pulls lamenting from our mouths, brings me closer to him.

Bring the waves, and I will feel them & find out who You are making me to be.

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c. Hanna Osterwyk, 2009. Mission Bay, San Diego, CA.

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