by Shane Fookes, MA LPC Intern
This is the fifth and final in a series of posts on lament. The first post addressed the importance of lament. The second post addressed the purpose of lament. The third post made the important connection between emotions and lament. The fourth post provided the process of lament.
You may be familiar with the song “The Waiting” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I know I am aging myself with the reference. But it is a song that remains culturally embedded because it’s so singable and relatable, the chorus in particular:
“The waiting is the hardest part
Everyday you see one more card
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part”“The Waiting” by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
I don’t know of anyone who would say, “Ooh, I love waiting.” Yet waiting is a primary catalyst for change! And waiting doesn’t mean a lethargic or passive approach to life either. Far from it. Waiting involves doing what is in your power to do and trusting the results to God. Of course, this may sound nice on paper but it’s quite different to live out, especially when life hurts.
The Psalms teach you to lament, to give voice to your struggle as you trust and wait for God. In a hurry-up, get-it-done culture, this goes “against the tide.” It can be incredibly difficult to trust and wait when the culture around you offers option after option for easing your pain and increasing your comfort. Waiting for God seems absurd when a cacophony of voices both within and without screaming, “MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN!”
Here’s the rub: when you try to escape and find an easier more comfortable path, you lose.
Hope is the key to waiting patiently. At a most basic level, hope is the anticipation of something good. Think about it: if you know for certain something good will happen, you’re more likely to wait patiently, right? For as long as it takes. For example, when your favorite band is coming to town, or your favorite sports team is in the championship game, you’re willing to wait for a ticket to see them play. You’ll even camp out overnight.
One particular psalm, Psalm 130, provides a compelling picture of patiently waiting in hope. “The psalmist connects waiting and hoping for God with the imagery of a sentry standing attentively in the utter darkness of night ready for potential enemy attacks. The sentry is diligently doing his job, but he’s also yearning and waiting for the hope of dawn.”
So you may be wondering: how do you wait in hope when it seems like everything inside you and around you is clamoring for you to make something happen? Well, that’s one of life’s great challenges! It’s a primary reason people like you seek counseling. A good counselor creates a safe haven and a secure base as discussed in the second post in this series. They also teach behavioral skills that help you defuse unhelpful thoughts, accept unwanted emotions, and gain clarity around your life goals and values. Each of these skills will help you wait patiently in hope.
Here’s why this is so important: your capacity to wait in hope is directly connected to your experience of JOY when God brings change. Real joy. Not the cheap and temporary happiness that comes by escaping pain and trouble through cheap thrills. But rather a joy felt deep in your bones because it is a joy rooted in a rescue you could not arrange on your own. Please understand, this kind of joy does not originate from better a circumstance (though circumstances may indeed change for the better). Joy comes from an awareness of God’s grace, mercy, and goodness.
Ready to give it a try?
Here’s good news: opportunities to practice waiting are readily available all around you! You can train yourself by choosing them: choose the slower lane of traffic, the slower check-out line at the store, the lane with the most cars at the stoplight, and so on. Actively choose and then notice the thoughts and feelings that bubble up inside you. Talk to God about those thoughts and feelings (you know, lament!). Declare your trust in God and your willingness to wait in hope for his provision. Getting better at waiting for small things will help you wait for the big things in life.
Learn More About Lament
You can also learn more in the following posts in our 5-part series on lament:
- Importance of Lament
- Purpose of Lament
- Emotions and Lament
- Process of Lament
- Hope and Waiting in Lament (here)
CONSIDER ONLINE THERAPY IN OREGON FOR CHRISTIAN COUNSELING
Our Clackamas and Hillsboro-based counselors are excited to work with you, wherever you are in Oregon. Your life and relationships can thrive again. We can help you get back on track in a way that aligns with your faith and values. When you are ready to start online Christian counseling in Oregon, follow these simple steps:
- Learn about our therapy team in Hillsboro and our caring counselors in Clackamas
- Schedule an appointment with your preferred therapist, or contact us with questions
- Feel more connected to the important people in your life
OTHER MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES AT LIFE DISCOVERY COUNSELING IN OREGON
If you are in Clackamas, Happy Valley, Damascus, or Hillsboro, we can help you in person at one of our comfortable therapy clinics. Christian counseling is the cornerstone of our approach to therapy. Not only do we see adults, but children in counseling too. We also work with depression treatment, anxiety therapy, trauma therapy and PTSD treatment, relationship issues, marriage problems, and postpartum counseling. No matter where you are in the state, we can provide the support you need with online therapy in Oregon. Once you’re ready to start, we’re ready to meet you. Let’s connect!