Becoming A Modern Day Psalmist

In my adolescence and young adult life, I thought I had the answers. After all, conventional wisdom told me that personal fulfillment came through higher education, gainful employment, a spouse who loved me and children to raise. By age 23 I was three-quarters of the way there! I was doing great! Until life hit a snag. My plan encountered some walls that I hadn’t expected and was ill-prepared to scale. Much to my surprise, my spouse didn’t always see things the way I did. My gainful employment wasn’t all that fun; and the term “unexplained infertility” stalked me.

I began to search for answers in all sorts of places, but each one quickly became a dead end. And when one road nearly caused me to lose everything and everyone I held dear, I decided that perhaps I should explore the road of the One who calls Himself the way, the truth and the life. I met my Savior Jesus Christ on that road, and while my relationship with Him didn’t solve each of my situations, I found fulfillment that no amount of conventional wisdom could touch. So, when I read the following words in #thisbookisforyou by #tricialottwilliford, I identified completely.

“(The apostle) Peter didn’t say (to Jesus), ‘I love every word you say.’ Or ‘This is easy to understand, and I have no questions.’ Or ‘I will never wonder or wander again.’

“Essentially, he said, ‘(Following You, Jesus,) is difficult, but I think it would be harder still without you. I would rather walk through this with you – and find meaning – than take another path that leads to meaninglessness, no purpose, no healing, and no life.’” (This Book Is for You, page 30)

Peter’s words became my words as I studied the Bible in my early 30s. Stung by life’s difficult circumstances, I discovered that the best road to travel was the one led by Jesus Christ, who promises to be with me always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b)

But Tricia took the idea of investing myself in God’s word and invited me further still. She dared me to even insert myself in it, as what she calls a “modern day psalmist.” She discovered this practice herself as she mourned the loss of her own husband at the age of 31. In the season after his passing, Tricia says that most of the Bible felt foreign to her, a treasure map she couldn’t read. But in the Psalms, she “found prolific writers who cried out to God in the midst of real conversations in their actual lives.” Exactly the place Tricia was and where I find myself, as well. So, she began to copy the psalms in her own penmanship. And over time, she began to weave her own words into the psalmists’.

“I would write the psalmists’ words on the left side of the page, and I’d write my own on the right,” Tricia writes. “I watched the pages turn, and I felt my heart soften.”

The process obviously moved her, and as I read her account, I felt moved to join her. I opened Psalm 1 and copied it down the left side of my journal page. On the right, I wrote my own version. This act alone was so therapeutic, as I re-read the Psalms with the fresh, grieving eyes of a mom who had recently and suddenly lost her son. I trusted that Jesus would meet me there and would help me slowly heal. He did meet me, and He is slowly healing me.

How about you, friend? Are you processing daunting circumstances that are threatening to destroy every belief you ever had? The global pandemic alone, and all the areas of life it has affected, is enough to rock our worlds. Add any other tough circumstance to that, and we might feel like the ground below us is giving way. I know it has for me. But Tricia’s example as a modern-day psalmist has helped me. I pray it will help you, too. If you have questions, let us know them. If you decide to join us in your own psalm-writing, we would love to hear your stories! Share in the comments. In the meantime, may God help you to live free above the fray.

— Linda R. Maynard © August 2021

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