So, to begin with, I’m just going to drop a link to The Bible Project video for Lamentations. I’ve talked about The Bible Project before, but it’s been a while. The app with the reading plan I’m following is their ReadScripture app, and it includes the appropriate videos at the beginning of each book. It’s great. I highly recommend it.
I particularly want to share their video on Lamentations, though, because I don’t have a lot to add to what they say, at least for chapters 1 and 2.
Lamentations, and the Psalms that are similar, are so important because they validate our grief. Even in times when we are facing the consequences of our own actions. How often do we hear some version of “Well, you brought this on yourself?” or “What did you expect to happen?”
Suffering is suffering, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the source or the reason. All too often we are told to buck up, to grin and bear it, it could be worse, God has a plan, etc etc etc, anything that means we shouldn’t express our pain. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable for those around us. Our own fault, natural causes, or the actions of others, there’s always an answer that translates into “don’t be sad.”
We’re allowed to be sad. There are times we should be sad. So here’s a tip for when someone around you is suffering and you don’t know what to say: you don’t have to say anything. And if you really can’t just sit there without saying something, all you need to say is: I’m here. You’re not alone.
And here’s the thing, we’re complicated beings. We can hold multiple feelings at once. We can acknowledge our own responsibility and still need to mourn the consequences. That doesn’t make us selfish or deepen the offense.
Bonus rabbit trail reflection:
- It is possible to hold someone accountable for their actions, to be angry with the way they treated you, and have compassion for the experiences that led them to become the person they are. You can forgive someone while creating healthy, new boundaries. You can love someone without giving them license to hurt you.
- It is possible to be sympathetic to the challenges someone faces, whether cognitive or emotional, you can be encouraging, helpful, accommodating, without excusing the damage they might cause or the offense they might give. You can recognize that it was unintentional while still holding them accountable for the results. You can be sympathetic and accommodating while still expecting them to put in the effort to learn and do better in the future. (The other side to this is that when these people are in your life, and I assure you they are, you can and should also learn to modify expectations and let go of some ‘offenses’ that really shouldn’t be offensive.)