Driveway Lament

I lament in my car.

There is pain I would wish on no one.
The pain of a 2AM panic attack that leaves you terrified and exhausted.
The pain of chronic illness, the frustration of a body working against you.
The pain of depression. Anxiety. Insomnia. Trauma. The general agony of living in a broken world.
I hope you never have to lay awake in the dead of the night, when it’s so late and so dark that it feels like you just might be the only person awake in the world.
I hope you never find yourself on the bathroom floor.
I hope you never feel the need to sit in your car to scream out all of the frustration you’ve had bottled up for so long.

The truth, however, is that so many of us find ourselves there.
We can hold it together for a length of time. But after a while all the anger, all the pain, all the fear accumulates until the dam breaks.

It’s a cliché, I know, to say I wouldn’t change a thing. I know it’s a feel good statement that has lost its meaning in its overuse. But it’s also the truth. I wouldn’t.
Because those moments and those places, where hope feels nonexistent, are some of the most intimate moments I’ve ever had with God.
For many years, I was caught in the web of legalistic rituals that left little room for a personal relationship with God.
But now?
I lament in my car.
My bright blue Toyota. My first car and my favorite place.
I lament there.

Lamenting is different than complaining. Lamenting is grief voiced aloud. Where in complaining there is no hope found, in lamenting there is. Lamenting is an admission of inadequacy and inability to be okay on our own. Lamenting is how we rely on God alone in the darkest places. It’s knowing who you are in Christ, and knowing that He takes you at your weakest and most broken. So I lament in my car. A Driveway Lament, if you will.
I scream, and curse, and cry out in pain there.
I pray raw, broken prayers in there. I fumble my words, I ask questions that might seem childish to some. But I think that’s the point. I am His child, so it makes sense that I would come to Him as one. I sob until I can’t anymore. I mourn the pain inflicted upon me, I repent of the pain I’ve inflicted on others. I beg for comfort like one would beg for oxygen if deprived.
Sometimes I turn a song on at full volume and sing at the top of my lungs, my voice cracked and strained. It’s not pretty, but somehow it’s beautiful. Beautiful in the way only God can make it.

I lament in my car.

Mind you, I don’t announce to my family when I’m headed out to sit in my car for the next two hours. I also don’t give them the run down of how it went when I return. But once, after a particularly long week, and a particularly long Driveway Lament, my mom told me that my youngest sister saw me in my car and asked her, “Mom, is Anna in her car praying?”
I don’t know what made her think of that.
But I was struck by it.
I’ve never mentioned that when I go out to my car it’s to pray.
We don’t typically advertise those moments. Which is fine. They are private moments with our Savior. For me, they are the most intimate moments that I hold close to my heart.
But my sister assumes that when I get upset and retreat to my car, it’s because I’m praying.
I hope as she grows up, as she goes through her own pain and heartbreak, that she remembers how her big sister sat in the car when she was upset. I hope she decides to try it out herself. I hope she finds her own version of a Driveway Lament.
A closet.
An empty room.
A porch.
An empty church.
Or a bright blue Toyota in the driveway.
Wherever you find yourself retreating to in those times of overwhelm, I hope you retreat to Him.
Because He is there.
Among the clothes in your cluttered closet.
On the front porch swing.
On the bathroom floor.
In the passenger seat of your car.
I hope you find your place of lament, and I hope you go there often. I don’t want you to be driven into that kind of pain, but I also know that my despair has led to many precious moments with Jesus.
With lamenting, the problems do not cease, but I have yet to leave my car as the same person who got in.

So maybe the next time your fear threatens to overwhelm your soul, or the memories become too strong, or the pain becomes unbearable, maybe you’ll find your own place of lament wherever you see fit.

Because whenever I get into that place…

I lament in my car.

“Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to You! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!” Psalm 102:1-2

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