Questions of Lent

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Last week was too much. Too many commitments. Too much running around. Too much emotional stress. Too much conflict.

Not enough space. Not enough peace. Not enough rest.

So I got sick. Again.

I long to be like the women of faith I have encountered this week. They are steadfast in their praise of God, in spite of their many hardships and trials. They look at me and say, “God is good. His steadfast love endures forever.” And all I want to do is moan and complain. How could I be sick again? How can I know that God really does love me?

As I lay in bed, trying not to feel sorry for myself, I reviewed my three words for the year:

Peaceful, Present, Purposeful.

I had been none of those. For a whole week. I allowed my circumstances to control me. I allowed myself to react to the circumstances and take my emotional turmoil out on others.  I forgot to make space in the day to care for myself. I forgot to make space in the day to seek peace and purpose. I forgot to count my gifts and see how God was loving me. I forgot to pray.

It’s Lent. The time of year that I actually look forward to spending in more spiritual awareness and discipline. Well, let me tell you, my sin was very present last week. There was no hiding from the ugliness. There was no pretending that I was anything but spiritually broken and weak. I am full of doubt and anxiety. I worry about even the most mundane of things.

I pick up a new book by a blogger whose writing has comforted me over the past 18 months or so, ever since I read this post and could only sit at my computer and cry because I felt that God had spoken directly to me through her words. “Do you believe God will be absolutely in love with the life you’ve lived? Not because of how impressive you are, but because of how desperately God loves you?” (Micha Boyett) Her book is called Found: A Story of Questions, Grace & Everyday Prayerand I have been eagerly waiting to read it.

In the first few pages she says “I need to know how to love God when all I have to offer is my daily chaos. Mostly, I long to know a quietness in my soul, true contentment, despite my spiritual unimpressiveness. I need to believe that my simple life really is a gift and really can be holy.” (pg. 8) I sit stunned for a moment. Because this is exactly how I feel. This is the cry of my heart. God, can you love me if all I have to offer is the simple chaos of this typical suburban life? God, can you love me if I decide that it is impossible for me to keep the dog we just got? God, can you love me if I never end up leaving this small town, or adopting any kids, or doing anything to impressive for you?

I yearn for quietness and contentment to take the place of guilt and anxiety.

I think that Lent is the season for those kinds of questions. Lent is the time to feel the deepness of need. It is a time to yearn. I am learning to let the questions linger.

I am learning to take my youngest son for a breakfast date to Panera and just bask in the joy of spending a quiet hour with him sipping tea and eating a toasted bagel.

 

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