“When I stopped trying to block my sadness and let it move me instead, it led me to a bridge with people on the other side.” … I learned that sadness does not sink a person; it is the energy a person spends trying to avoid sadness that does that.”
― Barbara Brown Taylor
I had gone on a solo overnight to Frisco the night that Taylor Swift released her latest album, Midnights. I had planned to drive down early in the morning to get the kids off to school. As a bandwagon fan of Taylor’s work, I naturally found myself listening to her songs just hours after their release, in the dark of early morning driving home from the mountains all alone.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit uses a song to just hit you over the head, and that happened for me with track 15. I am regularly amazed by how God gives poets and writers of songs the ability to speak to our hearts and move us in a given moment of time. So often they give us what we didn’t even know we needed. Like prophets, they speak to cultural moments in a universal way that is also profoundly personal. Without an ounce of coercive power, an artist can sing to us, and move us, and we change.
As I listened to “Bigger Than The Whole Sky” I couldn’t help but feel that Taylor Swift is leading us all in lament. She is showing us how to let “salt streams out of my eyes and into my ears.” We have all experienced so much loss, personally and collectively. Yet we have pressed on, pushed through, pivoted. We do what we need to do to survive. We are resilient. But the time comes when you must lament because your body keeps the score. There comes a time when all that grief and ache and loss catches up with you. There comes a time when you need a good cry for all you’ve lost and all you’ve been, and all the friends who were and weren’t and may not be again. There comes a time for lament.
God invites us to lament. The Psalms are filled with lament. Our culture just isn’t always the biggest fan. We like to push sadness underwater like a giant beach ball that inevitably pops up again, hitting us in the face with tears in the grocery aisle at Target. From time to time, God brings us a word, or a song that helps us grieve all that has been lost. I pray you may find yourself in the kingdom of heaven where “blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
Thank you, God, for giving us this song and for giving artists songs that lead us in a worldwide lament. Click here to listen to Taylor Swifts song, “Bigger Than The Whole Sky”.
If you’d like to explore lament in the scriptures, check out these 5 psalms of lament:
- Psalm 130 / Key verse: Psalm 130:1, “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!”
- Psalm 6 / Key verse: Psalm 6:3, “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?”
- Psalm 38 / Key verses: Psalm 38:9-11, “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away.”
- Psalm 10 / Key verse: Psalm 10:1, “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?”
- Psalms 42-43 / Key verse: Psalm 42:7, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.”