By Milligan Burroughs
I have been so excited to start my first semester at McAfee School of Theology.
Throughout my life, I have witnessed multiple people I love and look up to attend McAfee, and when I was in high school it was my dream to finally attend. So far, the first semester I spent numerous hours investigating my emotions and theology.
My classes at McAfee have taught me introspection on a new level. Never have I ever so persistently sat and examined my innermost thoughts—which is quite a daunting task. I have found what I’ve discovered about myself to be incredibly freeing and have chosen to share part of that journey of self-discovery.
One thing most people don’t know about me is that I deal with severe daily chronic back pain. I have been dealing with this pain for more than seven years and through two surgeries, have found no relief. Through this, I have buried the emotions of my pain deeply so that I didn’t have to come to terms with it.
Pain, emotional or physical, when left untouched will eventually have its time where it becomes most present. So, of course, my time of self-reflection at McAfee really shed some light on my true emotions about the pain I have been dealing with for so long.
In the fall, I found myself contemplating greatly about lament.
My pastor at Johns Creek Baptist Church, Dr. Shaun King, spoke about lamenting and the importance of sharing our grief with those who are around us for the sake of our emotional health and I had to write a paper about the book of Lamentations for my Old Testament class at McAfee. This ignited something in me to reflect deeper than I maybe had all semester.
It’s all I could think and talk about for a couple of days. Questions like, ‘Had I been properly lamenting?’ and ‘How do I grieve something so full of despair?’ were constantly coming up.
While I tried to answer these questions to the best of my ability I discovered that I am in a season of lament. I’m not so sure if that’s necessarily an academic title, but that’s what I’m choosing to categorize this time of my life under. It doesn’t need to have a timeline, it doesn’t need to have answers, but instead to just be a space to sit with the Lord and feel my emotions fully.
Maybe there are others who need to hear the importance of ‘lament’ also. This has been a hard couple of years for a lot of us. Maybe others can join me in a season of lament, whatever that may mean.
I believe God can handle it, I believe that God understands fully and feels deeply saddened for us as we grieve. And maybe one day we will see answers, but for now, maybe the best option is to choose to lament.
Milligan Burroughs is a CBF Leadership Scholar and first-year student pursuing her Master of Divinity at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, Ga. She is also the Youth Ministry Associate at Johns Creek Baptist Church. Milligan’s home church is Vestavia Hills Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.