“Lamentations or Taylor Swift?” This is a student ministry game I came across while looking to spice things up in our community meetings on Sunday nights. (If something like this gets you super stoked, you might be a youth pastor.) The basic premise behind the game is posting a lyric up on the screen and participants guess if it’s from a Taylor Swift song or the biblical book of Lamentations. They have eerie similarities, if you didn’t know (especially if you use The Message’s translation of Scripture).
If you need education on either topic, I have some CliffsNotes for you. Taylor Swift is a crusty-hearted, 23 year old woman who acts much like Black Widow spiders that eat their mates. TSwift, as she’s known by her fans, enters romantic relationships with unwitting men only to dump their sorry butts once she’s got enough material to write a new album. Her former beaus are all but named in her songs, which are really catchy country/pop tunes (if you’re into that genre of music).
The book of Lamentations was written by an Israelite prophet named Jeremiah. He was tasked with the insufferable job of telling the entire nation that they were awful people and that they would soon be crushed by the Babylonian empire. [He was the life of the party.] Jeremiah saw the destruction of Jerusalem–which came after being dumped into a cistern, beaten, thrown into stocks, and imprisoned for telling it like it was (going to be). Jeremiah’s nickname is, unfortunately, the Weeping Prophet. Lamentations records all of these sob story-prayers Jeremiah experienced.
Wouldn’t you have spilled some crocodile tears if you knew all of that was coming your way? Or would you deny it and look the other way?
As I was thinking about TSwift’s lyrics, especially in comparison to Lamentations, I thought about how often I see people in The Church cry over things the way Jeremiah cried. I feel like this is pretty rare. I look around our culture and I see a “Woe is me” perspective saturating us all. When we do get upset, we seem to get upset over things that tread on our freedoms or make things less convenient, instead of getting upset about injustices in this life.
Do you know what the abbreviation “fml” means? It stands for “f*** my life” and is used in the context of having a bad day, learning life-changing news, or getting mud on new shoes. (I’ve seen tweets or Facebook statuses regarding all of these situations.) FML comes out of a selfish perspective. It’s not selfish to experience a bad day and wish to vocalize that. Still, this does seem to contrast pretty radically with people who don’t have two pennies to rub together. And I’ve heard time and time again how the poor and powerless are often joyful and hopeful in God.
It’s a me-centered life that causes us to spill tears for all of the wrong reasons. Not to take away from heartache in romantic relationships* or tragic situations, but The Church needs to get back to the right kind of crying. Instead of crying over our U.S. rights getting pushed to their limits, when was the last time you heard outrage over matters of true injustice?
What really breaks your heart? What pulls you outside of yourself and into the world of pain? If you were to cry any tears, are those tears all about you or do they concern the least of these?
There’s so much to be joyful of in this life. I wholeheartedly believe that. Even with the tears we spill because injustice seems to reign over everything, life is good. God has given us so much to be happy about. Tears of joy can go hand in hand with tears of pain. Let’s hold that in one hand and offer a Kleenex to those who mourn with our other hand.
*In her defense, TSwift is a hilarious woman when appearing on SNL or Ellen. I’ve also heard that she has controlling interest in Kleenex, which would explain how she can afford to buy so many tissues to mop up all those tears.
This #1Word5voices thing is something four friends of mine concocted together, during Lent of 2013, we challenged ourselves by posting on a word a day that Rethink Church came up with for Instagram.
It kicked our butts so much We liked it so much that we decided to post on a word once a month, on the fifteenth. Click on the hashtag #1Word5voices to find what Heather, Lindsay, Shawn, and Stephanie had to say this go-around.