poetry to sing out your suffering and pain

Jennifer Camp
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Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.

I know they can hurt. And they can be hard to hold: these feelings of ours that overwhelm—a particular moment, a certain memory. We hold them in our hearts, our bodies. Yes, it can be hard to breathe. 

Even feelings of joy—moments where we inhabit freedom and hope—can be difficult to process. How do we live in joy? Walk in it? Feel it is not an imposter but a true home?

Pain and joy.  Suffering and hope. Each can be a tangle of both beauty and heartache that God can help us understand.

In the mornings when I write, the room dark except for a small light that illuminates my page, I try to honor the cry of my heart. What is it feeling? What does it see that I don’t? What does it want, so much, for me to understand? What, really, is it trying to say?

When you don’t know where to begin—how to begin writing what it is your heart is feeling, give yourself space.  Be kind to yourself. Sometimes, my writing time amounts to me sitting there, in the dark, with God. My eyes are sometimes open. Sometimes closed. When I struggle to get words out that feel true, I can get frustrated, impatient. Sometimes self-condemnation pushes its ugly way in. And this is when writing is not fun. And not productive. And not true. And I ask God to help me surrender all that is false to Him.

But, truly, in these moments where our hearts ache, either because of a past wound or a current situation of suffering, we can do two things: Ignore our emotions, do our best to bury them. Or ask God to help us see and understand—for the sake of His healing—our deepest pain. 

We know the toll, physically and mentally, of ignoring the pain of our hearts. Anxiety. Depression. Panic. Stress. Addiction. We hurt ourselves even more deeply when we ignore the initial pain we feel. So, let’s not do that. Addressing our emotions is going to take courage. It’s going to take perseverance, determination, hard work. But it’s going to be worth it. Let’s ask God to show us our deepest pain. He invites us now to address it, to feel it with Him, to trust Him with it, and enter in. 

Let’s not put off what God is offering: freedom, wholeness, and deep healing. Want to try this now?

Here is the Loop Poetry Project prompt for this week:

In a poem, consider expressing, with specificity and detail, a present or past suffering where God is inviting you to enter in for the sake of helping your heart heal. Write about a moment of pain or suffering you no longer want to ignore. An experience of suffering you want to reclaim, you want to feel, you want (even with tears and heartache) to sing.

What have you been avoiding? How have you been hiding? From what have you been running away?

What past or present suffering do you now want to engage your heart around, with courage and trust? How can your suffering be something about which you can sing? (A song of lament? A song of pain? A song of hope? A song of desperation? A song of joy?)

In this deep place of your heart, how do you need God to come? How do you hope God will take the broken pieces within you and glue them—glue you—together? 

In the place of this suffering, what and who are you inviting in?

This is so easy task. I know. 

But write. You can do this. For you don’t do it alone.

Pain and suffering that is ignored can be too much for our hearts to hold. To participate in the rescue mission God is already doing in our hearts, we must delve deep into experiences of pain we’ve pushed off for far too long. 

Writing poetry about our suffering and our pain helps us to see it. We are not ignoring it. We are not disowning ourselves (which is what we are doing when we ignore our pain). Rather, we are making our own emotional health and personal wholeness a priority. But, most importantly, we are saying no to self-pity—that insidious and debilitating disease of the heart that distracts us from pursuing the true healing and wholeness that God wants to bring.

Now, this poem—or poems—you write might bring about more questions than answers to your suffering and pain. This is why poetry is the beginning, always the beginning, of more and deeper engagement with our hearts. An opportunity to delve into the questions the writing brings up. 

Let poetry help you to see the truth God has always wanted you to see. Say yes to healing. Say yes to the more that He has. This is just one step with Him. You can trust Him to show you step two.

And if you feel that sharing your poems would be part of your healing process, please use the hashtag #looppoetryproject on social media. 

Much love to you, from this one true heart,

jennifer

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com

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About Jennifer Camp

Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.