Two kinds of crowds exist in the Christian world: the peace makers who believe that forgiveness means reconciliation no matter what the situation or the danger, and people like me who understand that forgiveness is more important and reconciliation is not always possible. Esther Fleece wrote, No More Faking Fine, and it is a clarion call to the church to understand and learn how to lament.
“A lament saves us from staying stuck in grief and rescues us from a faith based on falsehoods. It was a false belief that led me to believe I was the reason for my parent’s divorce. It was a false belief that told me I would never find my way out of despair. These false beliefs, combined with my inability to lament, caused a deep wedge between me and God. God was not angry with me about this. He understands the complexity of human emotions. But I had to be willing to communicate with Him to see what I needed and what He was doing and to uncover the fake beliefs prohibiting my intimacy with Him. (pg. 38)”
Unlike other memoirs, No More Faking Fine honors her parents and the situation by focusing on the events and what God did through those events and her own psyche. It’s rife with Scripture, pointing her suffering and her recovery back towards an intimacy with God. The book became more than just a review for a publicist company; it became an act of worship, re-visitation of the past, and a lament. People who come from our similar, but varied backgrounds, can relate to this emotion-filled book. It is not written from hurt or revenge, but from a heart in healing and lament. In my experience, lament is not practiced in church because we are busy looking like we have everything together.
Even our Facebook pages are filled with happy, wish-you-were-me posts and pictures of happy families, healthy relationships, and people who, because they are busy, have no time to listen to someone else’s lament. No More Faking Fine goes into talking about how coping mechanisms fail and how pain has a purpose if it leads us back to God. She weaves her own story thinly throughout the book, but mostly gives us a theological look at her emotional and spiritual journey as she worked at coping with coming from an abusive and traumatic past.
What stood out to me was the fearlessness she learned as her faith grew in the Lord. I recall how I was trying to share with someone how a person can go to church all their life and not know Christ or have a relationship with Him in spite of hearing the same verses every week. It is through the relationships of the people that come around us during our time of lament that help us understand intimacy with God. Fellowship is tricky for some of us.
“Some of us need to be told that good people are still out there–and they are. But even when Jason and Tamy showed me in numerous ways that they were there for me, my heart still anticipated their abandonment. I didn’t want to keep them at a distance, but my self-sufficiency had turned against me, and I had no idea how to reverse it. (pg. 176; emphasis mine)”
I resonated with everything written in, No More Faking Fine. We even share some of the same struggles as I am sure some of you whom read it will identify with, too. People I minister to or meet that come from similar but different situations or backgrounds and are damaged have discovered that we share the same emotional struggles. Grief has many stages and that grief needs to be heard in safe places. While I love most of the books that I read on the subjects of grief and forgiveness, I can say with absolute confidence, No More Faking Fine needs to be read by others who struggle with lamenting. Isolation is our worst enemy.
We need the fellowship of non-judgmental believers to come around us with, “hugs and tissues,” instead of Job-like friends who only sit with us for a time until they try to “solve” or blame us for our problems. We need a fellowship of faith so we can recover, and mentors or loving families willing to come around us for gentle and timely correction or encouragement. Like Esther, we need to move forward in obedience to Christ in spite of our fears, real or imagined.
In quoting her namesake,
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
You’re doing a great job, Esther.
Keep speaking to those of us who need to understand how to lament and draw closer to Jesus.
Help us become fearless by pointing us to Scripture.