Okay, so honestly I have struggled now that the kids have gone back to school. Pre-pandemic I would have struggled as well. I was always the mum who when asked if they were looking forward to their kids returning to school after six long weeks at home over the summer - would say no! People would look at me sideways and you could see them thinking 'is this woman sane?' But this time it is not just that I miss the kids, I am missing something else.
When the schools closed in March, we spent a few weeks trying to discover a rhythm of work, rest and play that fit in with us all. Then came summer, the kids didn't have any school work but I still had to work, so we again had to discover a new rhythm. Now they have returned to school and I'm still at home but yet unable to find my own healthy rhythm. To be honest, I think I'm just struggling.
I read a really helpful Tweet yesterday. It talked about us being 6 months into the pandemic. That although we may have adjusted to the new normal it might feel like we are running out of steam. YES - that's me. How can I keep on going? What do I need to do in order to find my own rhythm now that school life has resumed but I'm still at home working? How can I find happiness when I cannot connect face-to-face with the people that I love? How can I find rest when I work in my home and I cannot travel far? How can I find joy when the nights are closing in and it seems like it is always dark?
The truth is that we aren't very good as a society at lamenting. We like to push our feelings deep down inside, raise a stiff upper lip and head out ready to face the day. But when we face an obstacle, it may have the power to stop us in our tracks. Lamenting gives time to stop and pour your heart out to God. To cry out to God in our moments of deepest sorrow, doubt and despair. The Bible is full of lamenting prayers. There are lots in the book of Psalms and Lamentations. The writers of the laments knew that their only hope lay in God.
Lamenting is not just that deep cry to God, but also reminding Him of His promises to you. The Bible is full of God's promises to us. If you aren't sure what they are, pick up your Bible and read. Search your Bible app for 'promises' and speak them out. 'Lord in your word it says, the Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made (Psalm 145:9) Lord I ask that you remind me of that promise'. Whatever it is, cry out to God for He promises that He will hear you (Job 22:27).
Paul Miller in his book, Praying Life says:
We think laments are disrespectful. God says the opposite. Lamenting shows you are engaged with God in a vibrant, living faith. We live in a deeply broken world. If the pieces of our world aren't breaking your heart and you aren't in God's face about them, then...you've thrown in the towel.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to throw in the towel!
After you've lamented you might feel raw. This is the time to look for God's blessings. Sometimes we can get so lost in sorrow that looking up can feel impossible. But God's blessings follow us every day of our lives. Sometimes they are so obvious that we cannot fail to see them. Sometimes they are so quiet that we have to look hard to find them. But they are there.
As the summer fades and the autumn arrives, I want to challenge us to do two things in this season. I challenge us to keep two journals. One with your laments to God. Pour out the things in your life that break your heart, and then remind God of His promises over your life. Secondly, keep a blessings journal. Try to write up to three things that have blessed you during that day. Remember to look for the small quiet blessings as well as the loud ones.
I truly think that when changing seasons, lamenting and blessings will propel us into what God has planned for us.