During the last recession—the one they called “great”—I lost my home to foreclosure. I also lost my savings to survival, my credit to bankruptcy, a best friend to cancer, a loved one to alcoholism, and (almost) my marriage to the upending grief of it all.
Having been raised in a progressive christian family, I knew that forgiveness was a key element in the healing process. I even knew that I was allowed to be angry with God.
And so, after all that loss, I set my face forward, determined to do a good job and walk the path that life had mapped out for me. For two and half years, I worked the formulas of forgiveness: I wrote letters of acceptance, prayed prayers of submission, and made every effort to love those who had let me down.
Then one night, in the middle of my righteous toil, I had a startling dream in which God told me I was to go on a “Journey of Forgiveness.”
“Seriously, God?!” I asked upon waking. “A journey of forgiveness? What do you think I’ve been doing all this time? Who could I possibly have left to forgive?!”
“Me.” God gently responded. “And yourself.”
What my spiritual upbringing could never have prepared me for was the ferocious honesty that God would require of me in this new and unknown level of recovery—this “anger” stage of grief. How God would dig my fury and my honest hurt out of me. How she would require me to confess my resentments. How she would sit lovingly through every season of my aching disappointment and never stop listening to my heart until it was fully poured out; fully healed.
I didn’t know the intimate audacity that God and I would forever share after that. Today, I wrote this “version” of Isaiah 55, for all of us who find ourselves angry at God now.
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Isaiah 55—a “version” for those in the third stage of Grief
Come to me all you who are angry
And you who have no tears left to spend
Who’ve wrung out your eyes with crying
Till they’re swollen salt-waters of grief.
Come weep and rage.
Come pitch a fit.
Punch the floor and the wall.
Come beat my chest and scream at me.
Come to me all you who are exhausted with yourselves,
Worn out with bitterness and resentment
Against me, against the Heavens, against the Earth, against others
Come to me all you who feel the knife in your throat, the tightening knot of your gut,
Every time my name is mentioned.
Come all you who wince in pain
at words attached to my name.
and you who want to scream,
“Where was it for me?!”
Every time you see a glint of light you shut it out in fear:
Fear that I’m still Real – but unloving, uncaring, unseeing, untouched.
Come to me all you who hate
and can’t seem to stop.
I still have Love for the taking.
Why walk in circles,
Stomping around in your minds,
Searching for answers and reasons that never come?
Come eat, come drink, come pour yourself out.
To your stories and your tears.
I’ll never grow tired of you,
even though everyone else has.
I’ll hear you till your soul can live!
Come to me all you who are angry,
Come give me your bitter waters
This piece is from Esther’s collection of stories, “A Journey of Forgiveness.” You can read more of her work on her personal blog.