The weather here in Northern Idaho was still bouncing between Winter frost and Spring thaw while Tim and I were on our little staycation a couple weeks back. So, after a
depressingly chilly day or two when I was thankful for the condo’s powerful heater, I did the happy dance around our borrowed living room as the sun rose brightly one morning. This called for fresh air so I opened all the windows, enjoying the cool breeze as I folded laundry and washed dishes.
Not only was I afforded a constant flow of Spring air, but because the condo was on the ground floor, a few feet from the sidewalk, I had a steady soundtrack from the day unfurling outside our windows. Several people shuffled by with dogs on jingling leashes. The mailman rattled keys against metal as he delivered envelopes and packages to the group of mailboxes between buildings. Construction workers a couple blocks away shouted instructions over the scrape of bulldozers ripping up concrete.
The noise trade was not one sided. Passersby could also hear the soundtrack coming from inside our open windows. This included the clanking of dishes I was scrubbing clean, the lilting melodies of worship music streaming from my iPad, and the piercing cries of baby James.
Our son is not colicky and generally only fusses when he’s hungry or tired. But on this particular day, James decided to test his pipes. I looked up from the dishes just in time to see our peaceful sleeper go rigid, all appendages stuck straight out from his body. From his mouth erupted a most piercing scream that quickly transitioned to rhythmic wailing. I hustled with dripping hands from behind the sink to console our crying child.
Normally, crying doesn’t bother me. I hold, rock, whisper, bounce, and shush for however long it takes for James to settle down. But this episode got my heart rate up as I frantically tried to quiet our screaming son. It dawned on me as I furtively glanced to the open windows that I was embarrassed by James’ outburst.
I could hear the neighbors thinking, “Ugh, there goes that baby again. I hope they leave soon.” I could imagine a person out for a stroll wondering if they should call the police for fear a baby was getting abused. What if James was disturbing someone? What if people thought I was a bad parent because my son wouldn’t stop crying?
I looked to the open windows and wished I had kept them closed.
The open windows provided a peak into our reality – James isn’t a perfectly peaceful baby and I’m not a perfectly calm mother. Had I kept the windows closed, I may have been able to mask our imperfections but I would have perpetuated a lie.
There’s something to be said for throwing open the windows of our lives, allowing others to glimpse the imperfections in our hearts, minds, and souls. Vulnerability is an important part of building community, but it’s also scary and embarrassing at times. It’s much easier to keep our windows closed, to muffle our crying, and let passersby walk past thinking everything is hunky-dory.
God’s desire is to work through human vulnerability rather than overcome it.
Mike Erre in Astonished (a fantastic book!)
I think vulnerability is valuable enough for us to not only open our windows, but open our doors – invite people into our messes and our brokenness.
To borrow words from a popular song:
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see. Be the good [person] you always have to be. Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know. Well, now they know.
Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore.
Oftentimes my tendency is to conceal, to not let people see the true nature of my heart. Let’s not be people who conceal the imperfections, who hold back for the sake of appearances. God shows up powerfully when we let it go. Let’s open our windows, open our doors, and celebrate wailing.
7 thoughts on “In Celebration of Wailing”
This is beautiful! I pray you always leave your windows open, literally and figuratively. Thank you for sharing.
I love any blog post with a Frozen reference :) Vulnerability is so hard, but I’ve found it only deepens friendships.
Side note: we rent out our basement that we turned into a little apartment, and there have DEFINITELY been times I’ve lost my cool when our renters are downstairs and I’m sure they have heard ;)
Watched it for the second time on Easter – so good :)
Staying at the condo made me thankful we don’t live in an apartment anymore. I would feel too guilty about having a fussy baby.
Love this, Emily! I could relate well, because our front door is surprisingly un-soundproof, so it’s easy for the neighbors I share a hallway with to hear my interactions with the kids right from our dining room & kitchen. Can’t say I always want them listening… But I loved even more where you ended up going with it. I’m a big advocate of authenticity—letting our windows open more—just like you.
Thanks Erica. Open windows definitely keep a person accountable. An added bonus :)
Aw, thank you for this peek into your heart and call to vulnerability, Emily!