I recorded this conversation in 2002 when Maggie, like Alexander, had had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week.
Me, trying to comfort Maggie: Remember sweetie, the Bible says, “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”
Maggie: Mom, I’ve just had a bad week, I haven’t been trampled by a horse!
Me: Ok, got it. Ratchet back the hyper-spiritualizing.
Recently I’ve circled back to Psalm 34 where that verse is found. It’s a “praise-the-Lord-even-if-I’m-dying” Psalm, because God is present. It’s a good reminder Psalm. God has used it in my life in some of the lowest times (can you tell from all the scribbling and times I’ve dated it?)
But on other days I love it that we also have the “crap-life-sucks-and-never-will-get-better-so-let’s-kick-ass” Psalms.
Psalm 35, for example
1-3 Harass these hecklers, God,
punch these bullies in the nose.
Grab a weapon, anything at hand;
stand up for me!
Get ready to throw the spear, aim the javelin,
at the people who are out to get me.
Reassure me; let me hear you say,
“I’ll save you.”
4-8 When those thugs try to knife me in the back,
make them look foolish.
Frustrate all those
who are plotting my downfall.”
Now that’s what I’m talking about! How “spiritual” does that sound? I love it that that kind of honest journalling rant with God is “legal”!
Here’s what I think. There’s no such thing as your “spiritual life”. We can’t compartmentalize God like food on our Chinette plate at a picnic – “spiritual” in this section, “real life” in that section. There is only our scrambled up holy and profane real life, lived with Him.
I got an email a few weeks ago from one of my best friends that included both swearing and Scripture. I LOVED it! I rejoiced that she felt safe enough with me to send it, and I think God may have smiled as He read over my shoulder.
This is the “with God” life I desire. One of authenticity, and messy dependence on His grace, inviting Him into every how, why, ouch, and hallelujah.
I believe there are always too many gifts to count, and authentic praise is a needed discipline. But maybe you are tired and fed up and need permission to vent too. I think the key is doing it with God. We may need to say “THIS is how I’m feeling! So what do you think about THAT, Oh Holy one!?” Ruth Haley Barton talks about the capacity to “be with what is” in God’s presence.
The Holy – absorbs, transforms, redeems the profane as we allow Him.
So what Psalm do you need to write today? What honest, lonely, happy, angry, confused, quiet, loud, bruised, scared mess do you want to show up with in God’s presence?