Thursday, February 7, 2008

lenten season

this lenten season snuck up on me. part of the reason probably is because, after years of either being on an "organized" church staff or being involved in some sort of church planting experience, this year we don't have a home. a church home, that is.

i grew up protestant (southern baptist, to be exact). what this meant for me is easter time meant the easter bunny more than it meant jesus' resurrection. and it certainly didn't include lent. i always thought that was just the stuff that collects in your pockets when your clothes are in the dryer, right? OH--that's "lint." so that about sums up my childhood experience with lent and easter.

as we embarked on the journey we have now been on for about 9 years, which included starting out by leaving the "organized" church i mentioned earlier and being a part of two new church plants--one we helped start (in houston) and one of our own (in boston)--i began to embrace more of the mysteries of church and really longed for finding ways i could really practice my faith during easter. i had friends growing up who gave up chocolate for lent, so i was familiar with the "giving up." i thought the idea of sacrificing something, fasting from something, in my life was a really beautiful idea.

i say all this to confess that, though i thought the idea of doing this was a mystical and beautiful thing that would most likely help me (re)connect with jesus, i never did it. i don't know why. i've never fasted either. i did try once to give up something for lent, but i didn't make it very far.

so this year is no exception--i'm blaming it on the sneakiness with which the season approached. i scrambled ideas around in my head yesterday as i sat trying to edit a book about autopsies, reading words on a screen while things swirled around in my brain such as chocolate, pepsi, sweet tea, meat, coffee (no, never, i live on this stuff with 3 kids right?!), shopping, and on and on.

then this morning i felt almost guilty for not having picked something. am i lazy? probably. am i lacking in faith? most definitely these days. but maybe choosing something would help me in these areas of my life. maybe giving up something would actually draw me closer to the One we will be celebrating 40 days from now.

so here's what i came up with: an impossible task, one that i wish i could accomplish but know the reality of actually following through on this. i thought, "i wish i could give up thoughts." i know, sounds crazy right? but oh, how i wish i could fast from thoughts. they are my downfall.

thoughts of the past: how i might have been a better mother, better wife, better friend, better daughter, better sister.

thoughts of the present: how i hate editing, when i should be grateful for the privilege of being able to work from home. how i don't like the noise my kids make, when i should be rejoicing in their little voices because before long they will be gone and the house will be way too quiet. how i wish i weighed less, when in the scheme of things this really doesn't matter so much.

thoughts of the future: being so afraid of what's around the corner that it's almost paralyzing. wanting to believe that things will finally be different but so worried that if i have any hope at all and it's crushed this time i'll really be finished with jesus altogether.

so knowing i am up against an impossible task, i'm still going to give it a shot: i'm going to try as much as i can to fast from these thoughts and just see what happens. i think it might just make a difference, draw me closer to jesus and deeper into my waning, wandering faith.


Pixie said...

I think it is an awesome fast and that it will really encourage you when you look back over the 40 days. One year I gave up complaining and I know that it radically changed my perspective in very unexpected ways.

I have similar background with Lent. Since the church I go to doesn't practice it this is what I found a site online:

I leave the browser up at work & go back and forth. Some days I only get to the Psalms, some days I skip around. Most of the time it is more of a distracted reading & I have to remind myself to "slow down & center" but it's a little something I wouldn't have otherwise. I have been in a spiritual desert myself lately (but then that happens sometimes, no?). I am hoping that this Lent helps that spiritual landscape become a little more fertile.

Last night at services, the priest was greeting people as they left. He said, "Bright sadness." Hmmm... appropriate, I think.

asti said...

I think that you've really hit on something there...about just 'being' in the moment and focusing out the ifs, buts and maybes. Being grateful and mindful of what we have NOW.
Powerful stuff and not easy to do. (I speak for myself but have a feeling that we may be similar when it comes to this..)..
Good luck x

Jeromy Donlon said...

I stumbled on your site through your husband and wanted to thank you for this post. Having grown up SB I feel like I have missed the boat on so many experiences. Glad to know there is hope. I am trying to re-evaluate my beliefs and the source of them. Thank you for your openess and honesty. I was fortunate to meet your husband Saturday and he spoke fondly of you and the children
God bless

Amelia Plum said...

I loved this post. I'm agnostic myself but grew up in a town that was strongly catholic so I would give up something for lent when my friends did. When I was younger I searched out churches for a feeling of belonging but I never felt connected to any particular church - very 'Are You There God It's Me Margaret' sort of thing. But I understand your niggling thoughts of self doubt and criticism. I think it's something a lot of women deal with and it only becomes worse with being a parent, at least it sure seems that way to me! Your idea of pushing away these destructive thoughts and focusing on the moment is an excellent one. One thing someone told me that can help lighten your mental load - you can do everything you want in life, but you can't do it all at the same time. Mom's are supposed to be such masters of multi-tasking (hence the caffeine addiction!) thinking of of that phrase helps me give myself a much needed break when I'm beating myself up too much. Hope it helps you:)