The Noises Our Hearts Make
Oct 21, 2018 05:25AM
● By Bonnie Lyn Smith
There’s a certain sound my dog Delilah makes when she has rolled her ball under the furniture and can’t get to it. It’s not the same low whine as when she needs to go out. It’s not the urgent bark when the FedEx delivery truck rolls up. It’s a quiet, sad “rrrr” that ends with a question mark in her inflection, as if to say:
“Mom, if you don’t mind. I would really like to have my toy back. Help?”
My daughter’s lionhead rabbit Sookie has her own way of communicating with us. When she is scared, she skitters to the back of her pen scattering hay as she goes. It’s as if to say:
“I'm scared. But where can I go from you?”
When she is eating and we try to pet her, she makes a series of low-throated warning grunts:
“I am afraid you are going to take this away. I need to eat this good thing while it’s here. I don’t want you right now.”
I want to clarify that while I am a huge animal lover and we highly regard our pets, I believe it is completely biblical that we have dominion over them. God gave us that authority back in Genesis. So, it’s half in jest that I attempt to know what their significantly smaller and limited brains are thinking, but they serve as amazing muses, don’t they?
Here’s my question: What sound utters from your throat in these same scenarios and to whom:
- When you need help or assistance
- When you are frightened
- When you are hungry and/or need provision
Do you cry out to a friend, spouse or significant other, parent, pastor, or counseling professional? Do you cry out to God?
And what posture are you in? Are you meek, like Delilah, pleading quietly for that ball you can’t reach, humble and ready to accept help?
Are you nervous and jittery like Sookie when help approaches?
Also like Sookie, do you draw limits when you receive provision, hoarding it, guarding it, afraid your benefactor will take away the good gifts?
In 2008, I was living on a tiny island in the Republic of the Marshall Islands with my young family. I had been slipping slowly into depression. It crept into my mind, heart, body, and soul like a slow leak of joy in an inner tube with a pin-sized hole in it until one day I was completely deflated.
On one particular morning, I found myself on the floor in fetal position by the oven. The kids could not see me from where they were sitting at the table. And I rocked and cried out in low moans. I was at the end of myself, and the floor seemed like the best place to bottom out.
A phone call came in during my low, deep guttural moans. I don’t usually answer the phone, but it also didn’t often ring at that time of day. We were across the International Date Line from most of our loved ones. The timing of phone calls was always so confusing.
I answered, and it was the one person (unaware of the depth of my struggle) who had always spoken into my pain, seeing through any façade and knowing the lies I believed in my own head. She was my lifeline that day—and in many days to come.
Recently I was checking on someone dear to me and found this person in similar posture on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor, in a bathrobe, eyes empty, staring up at me but not really seeing. No hope. Just flat, despondent. But I knew to go in. God had prompted me, I’m sure of it.
This person neither ducked and took cover like Sookie nor uttered a plea like Delilah. She merely looked up as I entered the room; very few sounds were audible. Because she had no words, I offered some to see if they matched what she was feeling. I had to speak for her.
Did you know there is a significant amount of “crying out” in the Bible? Do you know why I love the inclusion of this element of humanity so much? Because it offers a wonderful representation of different personalities and levels of desperation. I have always said that having the Psalms of King David in the Bible is why I can believe in and wrap my mind around God the Father because David was so free in his expression to God: anger, desperation, fear, etc. At times it was almost childlike, and at the end of the day, that is the best posture before our loving God, the Father. We are His children.
Take, for example, this great sorrow and supplication (pleading before God):
Lamentations 2:18, ESV
Their heart cried to the Lord. O wall of the daughter of Zion, let tears stream down like a torrent day and night! Give yourself no rest, your eyes no respite!
And here is evidence that the psalmist cries out to God with a faint heart, but he knows God will provide for and guide him:
Psalm 61:2, ESV
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Because of my own lifelong struggles with abandonment, the words of Jesus often bring me strength and comfort. In His final earthly hour before death, He expressed His own sense of abandonment.
Matthew 27:46, ESV
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?"
Imagine that! The Son of God! Is there any emotion He did not experience? He is a high priest who knows our sorrows.
Hebrews 4:15, ESV
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
What about Sookie’s fear? What about our own? I would say that Moses is pretty fearful in this passage. But He remembers where His rescue and help come from:
Exodus 17:4, ESV
So Moses cried to the LORD, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me."
Sookie the rabbit was partly right. We cannot hide from God, our Provider, and we certainly need a healthy respect of who He is compared to who we are. But His omnipresence means He knows everything and still loves us, always with us. He is present in our anxiety, pain, and joy, and He is an ever-present comfort. Consider the words of King David:
Psalm 139:7-10, ESV
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
Sometimes, like Sookie, we see the good gifts God gives us, and we are afraid He will take them away, so we guard them, to the point of shutting Him out. I sometimes think she is not sure if the food just placed in her bowl is going to be removed before she can eat it.
God is a giver of good things who loves to give good gifts to His children. He is unchangeable and dependable.
Matthew 7:11, ESV
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
James 1:17, ESV
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
So, I ask you, one more time:
What noise does your heart make?
Does it clamor for attention, afraid He isn’t seeing you?
Do you cower on the floor, afraid of Him seeing you at all?
Do you trust in His goodness, His provision, His love, and His care?
I challenge you this week to become more authentic in how you call out to God, to fear less, to trust more. Relationships are built when we communicate and remove our masks. Adam knew he was naked before God in the garden of Eden. There is nothing that God doesn’t see. Knowing that, take the burden off yourself to remain masked.
Cry out. Get real with God. See Him as Delilah saw me: She had a need, and no matter how trivial it may have seemed to her at the time, she confidently asked for help. “I need my ball. Can you help me?”
Try it: “I need _________, God. Can You help me?”
Start building that relationship now. It will usher in amazing peace.
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about parenting, marriage, mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, the healing cloak of Jesus, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
Her book, Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day, offers anecdotes on all of these subjects and Scripture for each situation as well as Book Discussion Questions for deeper exploration.