… Now Cinderella don't you go to sleep
It's such a bitter form of refuge
Ah, don't you know the kingdom's under siege
And everybody needs you
from “Dustland Fairytale” by the Killers
I wrote a terrible poem yesterday, in the middle of an angry letter to God. Or maybe it wasn’t really a poem. Maybe I just got tired of typing regular length sentences. And the letter wasn’t just to God, it was also directed toward friends and tons of people I don’t even know, who dare to post happy pictures on the internet. I was having a rough day.
Some days are like that, right? And I know I’m not the only one who has rough days. A friend of mine told me recently that she had slept most of the day because every time she woke up she just started crying, so she turned over and went back to sleep. I guess not everyone has those kinds of days, but I think there are more of us than we realize.
A couple of weeks ago I drove to another friend’s house and when I got in the car I turned on the voice memo app to record my angry prayers. Why? I guess I thought it might help me believe that God was listening on the other end of my phone, and maybe it worked–I kept talking to him anyhow.
Today I wasn’t looking forward to going to church but I did it anyway. I sang the songs and repeated the prayers. Drank the little cup of grape juice; ate the tiny stale cracker.
My youngest son was beside me and my husband was on the other side of him. We sat in the balcony and I looked out over the crowd of hundreds of people, wondering how many of them believe all the right things and never have any doubt. And if not, why they keep coming back week after week? Maybe it’s just a habit, I tell myself. Or maybe they’re trying to earn points with the powers that be. But maybe, just maybe, they get something out of the gathering. Perhaps it’s the singing and the live music, or the Scripture readings and sermons.
I’m not upset that I went today. I don’t regret it, but I was apprehensive this morning and had to find an outfit that made me feel like I looked like a person who has their crap together. And I didn’t sing my heart out or lift my hands like I’ve been known to do in the past.
I guess it was kind of like trying to walk up the same flight of stairs that you tripped on the day before. I had to be careful. I had to pay attention.
Except yesterday I was on that staircase all by myself, and today several people smiled at me and told me they were glad to see me. I didn’t know any one of them from Adam, but the skin of their hands felt a lot like mine when we greeted each other
. And the eyes I looked into seemed kind and curious.
Tomorrow might bring more sorrow and anger, I may do more shouting and crying, or maybe I’ll just take a walk in the evening with my out of control puppy. But perhaps I’ll go back and try to make a real poem out of those scattered lines I typed into that other document. Who knows? All I can be sure of right now is that the words on this page couldn’t have been written by me yesterday. Does that make all the emotion of yesterday worth it? Did that lament give birth to these nine paragraphs? I don’t know. Maybe.
I really thought some of you might want to read those words as I was typing them yesterday, but when I read them back again I knew it wouldn’t be fair to myself or the people I love to share them publicly.
So here I am telling you that the ugly part happened; but so did today. And even though it wasn’t an easy day, not one bit of it felt like yesterday. And as some people are fond of saying nowadays: “I’m not mad about it.”
It’s okay to be sad, friends. Some days are just like that. There’s a few verses in the Bible that say our tears will not be wasted, and I’m choosing to believe that tonight. I sure hope you can, too. But even if you can’t, I encourage you to tell somebody about your sadness. I bet they’ll agree with me, that your tears matter as well.
Take heart, dear reader. The sad tales aren’t the only ones that are true.