By Pastor Paula Burchill
There is someone living in my house who is going through lots of emotions right now, lots of changes, and I get to hear about Every. Single. One. of them, it seems. And while I mostly cherish it, I also often want to just tell this person what to do so this person can get over it and move on. In other words, I want to fix it.
A couple of weekends ago, I led a women’s retreat on the psalms and we had a marvelous weekend. The psalms are really amazing—and if you haven’t spent much time reading them, I highly recommend it. They cover the gamut of human emotions—anger, joy, elation, gut-wrenching loss, frustration. You name it, it is in the psalms.
The psalms have been the prayer book of the church for thousands of years, and during the weekend, we practiced praying the psalms on our own, together, in song, in lament and we even wrote our own psalms.
As I have been thinking about the weekend and about living in a house with a certain someone, I have been sort of struck by how the lament psalms in particular tend to be structured. They start out with a complaint. They can be complaints about body aches, society, government, bad relationships, children, aging, lots of things. And the psalmists don’t hold anything back. They yell at God, yell at the world, they complain! But in the end, almost always, they end with some sort of expression of trust. That even though life seems awful, God is in control. God can be trusted. God will prevail in the end.
I guess what has struck me is how often they are content with the fact that God might not FIX anything. I mean, certainly, we hope God will, but what is most important is the conversation. That God hears. That we trust God. That we keep bringing our hurts and our fears to God.
The psalms really bring out the parent-part of God. Because I’m finding that my main job with this certain someone I live with is to listen. To let anger, fear, sadness, whatever it is that needs to come out—come out. Most of the time, I’m not needed to fix anything, because frankly, most of the time I can’t. And it is probably that way with God too. God gave us freedom. He lets us make mistakes. He did not make us puppets that he controls. But that doesn’t mean we can’t trust him.
Same with my kids. When they were little, I had a lot more of an illusion of control. I am finding this illusion of control is shattered almost daily as they have become teens.
So I pray. I listen. I try to keep the communication lines open. I try and remember that most things I am not going to be able to fix, but I am going to be able to bear witness. I think that is my main parenting learning curve, at least at this juncture.
And you know, I really believe that is what God wants for all of us. No matter what we are going through, God wants to share it with us. It might never be fixed, but we can trust God to be there and to bring good in some way in the end.