Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God. –Psalm 69:1-4 NRSV
We journey deep in the rhythm of Lent, and we come to this psalm. Save me, I’m exhausted from crying. I’ve lost my grip on things, there is no way to catch my breath. Mire, filth, floods wash over me. I’ve strained my eyes in waiting for God.
There is hope later on in the psalm and I encourage you to go read it later, but for now, sit in this desperation. Too often we try to gloss over some of the really terrible things in our lives. We greet those around us with a “how are you,” and wait around for the requisite response of fine, okay, good…. Whatever.
Yesterday I woke up with a searing headache, but I also really wanted to go be with my church community, so I dragged myself out of bed, smeared a smile on my face, and went to go serve. And I didn’t lie. I didn’t say I was wonderful. I didn’t try to make everyone else miserable, but I also didn’t want to whitewash the fact that I was not having the best day of my life.
I wasn’t able to do everything that I could have done, but I was able to have some good conversations, to pray with folks, and make connections within the community. I was able to smile.
And, really, I hope that part of what I was able to show yesterday was that you don’t always have to be perfect. Life doesn’t always have to be going splendidly to be able to come and serve, and to be able to smile and to make an impact.
Please, don’t hide a life of quiet desperation behind a smeared on smile and come and lie about how wonderful your life is. I hope that as a church we can be honest enough that we can take the broken parts that are our own lives, and use them for God’s own good work. We continue to build community as we grow together in honesty. And part of that honesty is in sharing when we are in pain, and when we feel that we are sinking deeper and deeper into the mire. Only then can we share the hope that we have as a community together in God.