The Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women in the NC Conference have teamed up to send monthly emails of encouragement to women in ministry. Here is the email sent in August. If you would like to be added to the list to receive these emails, sign up below.
Complaining isn’t lady-like. As women, we are taught to stay positive, to find the silver lining, and, when things simply aren’t right, to grin and bear it.
Yet scripture gives us a very different way to think about complaining. In scripture, complaint is holy. Our psalms are filled with it, and some of the holiest figures in the Bible (e.g. Job, Jeremiah, even Jesus) offer scathing complaints to God over their circumstances.
Read Psalm 88: 8-9
You have made my friends distant.
You have made me disgusting to them.
I can’t escape. I’m trapped.
My eyes are tired of looking at my suffering.
I’ve been calling out to you every day, LORD –
I’ve had my hands outstretched to you.
Reflect: Even though scripture always pulls us from lament toward praise, it never rushes or forces that final step. In Psalm 88, the psalmist never turns to praise, yet this psalm, too, is held up as a model of honest, authentic, and even holy prayer before God. How do you pray when praise is far from your tongue? Have you ever thought of your complaint as holy? Or even as desired by God?
Take Action: In biblical times, women were employed as “wailers” to call the community to lament (Jeremiah 9:17-18). Far from calling complaint “unladylike,” women were seen as especially gifted in leading the community toward this authentic expression before God.
Find a way to honor the holiness of lament this week. Give yourself permission to take your own complaints to God, without apology, and find a way to reach out and encourage those women in your community who are especially gifted in naming hurt and pain in a way that calls forth lament and action.
Lament is holy work. It’s God’s work. Thanks be to God.
Center for Leadership Excellence and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women
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