When I was little, I melted down way too easily. It honestly took next to nothing for me to end up in tears and sticking out my bottom lip in despair. If the littlest thing went wrong or took a turn for the worse I had to stop in my tracks and very publicly mourn it. It’s no wonder I went into theater in high school.
In those moments of pure upset and inconsolableness, I actually had a catchphrase to let everyone around me know that everything was not ok. Between sobs and questions of what was wrong, I would cry: “It’s too shapey!” Thank God my expression with words has evolved with time… As far as we can make out in later years, “It’s too shapey” meant that everything was wrong, out of sorts, undesirable, and unable to be overcome.
With time and (hopefully) maturity, I’ve grown out of crying and wailing when things went wrong. But if we’re honest with ourselves, a lot of the time adult life definitely seems too shapey. The problems are even bigger now, even fiercer. They’ve got some real teeth on them.
We suffer, fear, doubt, strife, inconvenience, terror, and heartache on such bigger scales than anything we felt as children. What started as skinned knees and squished cupcakes has turned into huge concepts like loss of a loved one, financial hardship, and abandonment. We like to believe that we’ve matured past such childish meltdowns, but all too often we’ve just matured the meltdowns along with us. We may not be able to scream and cry at our parent’s feet, but what do we do instead? Metaphorically shake our fist at the sky and demand to know how God could let something so horrible happen. It’s meltdown v. 2.0, and it’s not pretty.
But if as a child my parents, my human parents who are no more perfect than I, constantly and consistently showed me love and compassion in the middle of such big meltdowns, how much more love and compassion might our heavenly father have for us in these moments of adult meltdown?
The answer lies very clearly in the Psalms and what David wrote there. While not all the Psalms were written by David exclusively, a large amount exists that captures his personal thoughts in times of extreme trial. We like to admire these psalms on the basis of beautiful language, but when you look past the poetry of the writing to the heart of the writing, let me tell you what. It’s one big “It’s too shapey!” fest most of the time.
Given David’s accolades, one might assume he would keep a little more composure, but that certainly isn’t the case. Sometimes, David was, for lack of a better word, a complete basketcase. It’s not even that one Psalm is joyful, gracious, or trusting and the next is “too shapey”. Many times, David goes back and forth between the two extremes in just one Psalm. These are not always flowery language that works really nicely for a praise song on Sunday morning. A lot of them are meltdowns unfolding in real-time, and no flowery language can change that. Take Psalm 22 for example.
David opens this Psalm in complete and total despair, crying “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.” (Psalm 22:1-2) I’ll be honest, when I think of a kingly man who’s after God’s own heart, this is not exactly how I would picture him talking. This psalm (which you should definitely read in its entirety), becomes an intense flip flop between trusting God and completely despairing. Even when he’s praising, you can see the emotional turmoil David’s experiencing. Everything is definitely too shapey. And the reality is with a psalm like this is that we hear David, but see ourselves.
The point is this. God can handle all of you.
God isn’t surprised by the unfolding of time like we are. It’s not a shock to him. What we see as linear progression he sees as a complete blueprint. He sees every meltdown, every despairing whimper, and every shake of the fist long before it occurs and he still called you beloved. While it’s very honorable and worthy to want to present God your very best, it is not grounds for disqualification if we completely fall apart. He does not turn his back on the child having a meltdown and throw his hands in the air in frustration and defeat. He is not that kind of God and that is not his way.
He’s not present just for the good moments and shocked when you meltdown. God loves your happy, joyful heart, but he is also fully and well equipped to handle your anger, your hurt, your despair, your rage, your agony, your fear, your sorrow, and your grief. He can handle all of you. What’s more, he wants you.
You can reach the complete bottom of the barrel emotionally and God will still want you.
In the same way that my parents were always close by when everything was too shapey, ready to get me through, God is on your side in the low moments just as much as he is in the high ones. The biggest mistake we can make in these moments is not feeling despair, but acting on the urge to keep it and ourselves from God out of a sense of no longer being worthy.
Don’t let that be where your psalm ends.
Tell it to God, all of it. And keep telling him until every last drop of what’s going wrong is on the table and you can start working with him on what to do about it. It’s hard to admit that we’re so fragile as humans that we still fall apart, but it doesn’t have to disqualify us from any part of the story God is telling. Trust your God to be big enough to work on all of you.
Let’s find some joy,