When the girls were little, they would bicker in the backseat as I drove. I’m sure this has never happened in your world. Don’t judge. One day we were making our way from Point A to Point B and I simply reached the end of my rope. No one saw it coming, but as stealth as night a scream filled the car. It was loud, and it was mine.
After a startling moment of silence, backseat sniping melted instantly into laughter. Pretty soon, we were all screaming and laughing as if it were one sound.
That one afternoon of frustration evolved into a game – The Screaming Game (very original title). The rules were just as original – someone says, “Let’s play the Screaming Game,” and everyone starts screaming.
I miss that game. Not the loudness, really, but definitely the loudness. I miss the way fake screams sound from little girls. I miss how the girls thought they were getting away with something that they weren’t supposed to be doing.
I need that game. We all need the Screaming Game. How often do you think you are at the end of your rope only to learn that it’s just a kink? There’s a lot more rope ahead – a lot more scream-inducing rope.
Problem is – screaming isn’t really socially acceptable. In fact, it’s frowned upon in crowded public venues. A scream in a crowded mall might send the signal that someone is in need. But, that’s my point. How many of us are walking through our daily lives in need?
Where in polite society is one to scream out their pain?
Roller coasters are an option. I hate roller coasters. They make me sick and scare the you-know-what outta me. But – at least, no one thinks twice if you scream on a roller coaster.
Haunted houses are an option, and it won’t be long until they are open for business. I hate haunted houses. I know they aren’t really haunted, but I haven’t been to one since Chainsaw Massacre made it popular to end the tour with a chainsaw cranking up in a pitch-black room. No, thanks. It didn’t end well when I was ten, and I can’t foresee how it would end any better today. But – at least, no one thinks twice if you scream in a haunted house.
If you are one of the lucky ones who has nothing to scream about, you still can’t avoid it.
We all find ourselves deep in a forest of silent screams. We all swim the cacophony of hushed cries. Try as we might to keep it all neat and tidy, there is a trail of unmet pain on door handles, elevator buttons, and grocery cart handles. We bump into and it smudges our sleeves. We pick it up on the soles of our shoes. It’s everywhere we turn – pain – forgotten, overlooked, and neglected.
What’s all the talk of pain? I thought this was a blog about hope.
It is. Yet, hope can become a stumbling block instead of a stepping stone when we misunderstand it. So often we operate under the notion that having hope eliminates pain. We misunderstand hope when we bandy it about like a magic wand. A swish here, and everyone is happy. A zap there, and no more pain.
Hope is no magic wand. We cannot simply wave it over ourselves or others and expect that pain will disappear – at least not immediately. I don’t know the incantation to erase pain instantly. If I did, I’d muster up my very best Hermione voice and tap my wand on everyone I met. Rather, having hope is about putting pain into the right perspective.
Hope is holding on to God’s promises of eternal life. If our hope is in the eternal, then we can trust that the pain of this world is only temporary – even our greatest pain. If our hope is anchored to the promise of eternal life, then we can ride out the storms of this world confident that a day is coming when there will be no more storms. There will be no more pain. There will be no more tears.
When we misplace our hope in the temporary promises of this world, we find ourselves adrift in a sea of silent screams.
That Screaming Game that my girls and I played so many years ago was more than just silly fun to kill time in the car. It changed our perspectives on the situation at the time. We voiced inner frustration (or at least I did), which exposed the anxiety and frustration that festers when silenced. And, that first giggling reaction to what was likely my overreaction at the time – changed the way I looked at that moment.
Imagine how things in our lives would look right now – if we chose to scream our pain to God? How could our perspectives of this limited life be morphed should we hold onto God’s promises of eternal life?
Postscript: As I sat down to edit today’s post, news broke of the active shooter in downtown Cincinnati. I know nothing about the situation beyond the fact that at least three people plus the shooter lost their lives today. My thoughts and prayers are with all affected by the tragedy. May God support and comfort you during these early moments as well as the weeks, months, and years to come. I pray mightily that the Spirit fill you with hope on your darkest days.