Sometimes I am frustrated and miserable and unable to be comforted, and then, like a furious little girl, I throw myself on the couch and bury my face in the pillows and wordlessly shout angry questions at God. At those times, words–my favorite tools and playthings–are useless.
Words complicate the feelings and make them into something I have to turn reasonable, thoughts that want to be edited, sentiments that need to be made acceptable. Let King David use words, I aim my feelings toward God, the full force of them, like an undersea earthquake whipping up a tsunami.
I can’t even cry at those times, which makes me feel insincere. I remember being accused, as a little girl, of putting on a tantrum for show because I wasn’t crying real tears. But tears took letting go, and I had to hold on too tight as waves of frustration and fury crashed over me. I could never yell loud enough or flail hard enough, could never create enough outward chaos in those moments, with my little body, to reflect the magnitude of my misery.
Now I am an adult and I am reasonable. When I see the tidal wave of anguish coming, feel it pulling me under, I am supposed to be mature enough to take a deep breath and remind myself that God is in control and all shall be well. Sometimes the deep breaths work. Sometimes I am swept away.
On the couch I hide my face, I let the waves break over me, I do not try to tell myself anything. And sometimes I feel God sit next to me, on the edge of the cushion, stroking my hair and not saying anything back to me. Just letting his presence answer me, like a warm wave on the water’s edge, lapping at me, patiently lapping. “I know, I know.”
He recognizes my outrage and is not offended. He knows what I am thinking but doesn’t try to correct it. He doesn’t invite me to reason together with him. He just understands and says “I know,” pulling strands of hair away from my eyes and tucking them behind my ear, and–what is the opposite of judgment? That is what I feel, lapping over me, until I can finally cry.
Later I’ll let him speak to me, reassure me, help me sort things out and decide what to do or how to see things, and what to say.
I love the song that says God is the rock I can clamber onto out of reach of crashing waves, but I like better when I am caught in the crashing waves and he is with me, as I am tossed and swept in and out, toward the rocks and then toward the open sea, barely catching my breath between waves, and he is riding them with me.
At those times, when he can’t say anything, because I couldn’t hear him over the crashing and it is all I can do to take a deep breath before I am buried again by the water, that’s when I know him the best, when I know best that he loves me and will stay with me no matter what. He does not have to say “It’s going to be okay,” because it already is.