One day, as my patience was being tested, I decided to try a new remedy. I called it, "The Whine Bag." Anytime she began to whine because she wasn't getting her way, I would hand her "The Whine Bag." Then I would direct her little self to the staircase in our hallway by the kitchen. She was to stay seated on the bottom step (where I could still see and hear her) and whine into the lunch size, brown paper bag. She was not allowed up until she completed her whine session into the sack.
When she got up, signaling she was finished, she could return to her playing or joining in whatever we were doing. If the whining started back up, I handed the bag back to her and guided her to her designated whine spot on the stairs.
Amazingly, after just a few short sessions, the remedy worked. It didn't take long for her to begin associating whining with being alienated from where she really wanted to be. All I would have to say was, "Do you need the whine bag?," and she would settle down pretty quickly, realizing life wasn't all about her.
Whining is exhausting and pity parties can be lonely. Trying to make sense of the senseless can be all-consuming.
So, could there be a better way to whine than just wallowing in self-pity and despair?
David spent many hours asking hard questions, desperately desiring to know why he was in the place he was. He penned many why-nings using his lamenting to be honest and real before God who understood his every thought.
The crux of a lament isn't about letting everything hang out with God or embracing a good cry, but embracing the work of reflection and soul-searching, a kind of spiritual self-examination. (Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck, pg. 40)
Each of David's why-ning passages begin with the release of emotions but always conclude with praise to the Father.
Psalm 13 begins in verse one with, "How long, O LORD, will you forget me forever?," and ends in verse 6 with, "I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me."
His Whys directed him to the Who. The Who, David knows, is in complete control and the only One who can help him come to terms with his desperation. His whine session allows exposure, an examining of his heart, uncovering his restlessness before His God in an honest and real conversation.
I can honestly say that the beginning of my semester sabbatical so-to-speak these past few weeks has opened my eyes to the need to lament. I need a time-out to vent my whines, but not in a bag. I need to have an honest Why-ning before the Lord, asking some tough "why" questions which I desperately need answers for. I need Him to examine my heart and my God-trust level. I want my whys to direct me back to the Who - the One who already knows my heart and thoughts.
If you need a time of Why-ning, why not get a journal and begin the process with me? I will be following the pattern in Psalm 13 to direct my lament in a healthy fashion as described in the Wonderstruck study.
I have a feeling the time spent penning our whys will direct us to the One who will give us clarity and refresh our spirits.
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God; Enlighten my eyes, (Psalm 13:3 NKJV).
If you decide to journal your lament following the pattern in Psalm 13, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you and what you learned.