My eighth grade French teacher was pretty.
But that’s not what hypnotized me when I sat three rows deep, waiting for the first class to begin.
When she opened her mouth and began to speak French, I fell into a trance of romance.
As the consonants and vowels dropped out of her mouth and formed new sounds like “Pol—eeee---vooo---fran---saaaay,” I was swept off of my feet.
The sounds combined and seemed to express love and sadness and joy and passion.
I repeated the words day after day, until the sad thing happened.
It was as if someone snapped their fingers and the trance was broken.
One day, I simply stopped speaking French. Eighth grade was over and it was time to move on to Spanish, Algebra and American History.
In a similar way, I wonder if many of us have lost the ability to speak our sorrows.
We are so caught up in our rushed lives that we lose the language of lament.
The Christian story admits that the cosmos is cracked. All is not well. Cries of sorrow and grief ought to be heard if we are honest about reality.
How can we begin to speak our sorrows again?
First, linger when you sense lament.
Don’t immediately distract.
Lament happens when we give unmixed attention to that which has split and splintered our peace.
The divorce….the lay-off….the miscarriage……the child that has rejected your guidance……your friend’s child diagnosed with terminal cancer….the prayer that God won’t answer in the way you have begged Him to answer….
Linger in the loss.
On this dark path, stop and try to form the vowels and consonants of sorrow.
Words will not come at first. They almost never do.
Moans and groans express pain best, and God understands your speech of sorrow.
Second, join hands with your lament teacher, the Holy Spirit.
Did you know that many of the Psalms are songs of sorrow?
Through your tears, read along with the Spirit-teacher songs like Psalm 13, (“How long must I bear pain in my soul…?) Psalm 22 (“My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer”) and Psalm 55 (“My heart is in anguish within me”).
It is so hard to find and form the words that express ripping pain. The Spirit knows them all and will patiently help you mouth and moan them as He comforts you.
He will comfort you as you wail, with your hot face pressed against your shaking palms.
A third suggestion for speaking your sorrows involves taking intentional glances at the scars of the Savior.
Jesus is called a “man of sorrows.” (See Isaiah 53 for specifics.)
As Mary birthed her Son through tears of pain and moans of sorrow, Jesus entered our crying world as a crying child.
He identified with us when he became one of us.
He understands our losses in their deepest dimensions.
Every step of his life met with stabs of pain. He saw and felt disease, disempowerment, and despair.
And yet, in the garden of Gethsemane, he spoke his sorrows to the Father.
He trusted in the steadfast love, plans, and purpose of His Father as he sweat blood-drops of lament.
Every once in a while I hear someone speak a word in French. I’m older now and not as motivated to re-learn this language of love.
But I want to speak my sorrows better and better as I join my Savior in singing the songs of lament.
Will you join me?
Metro North Church