Thursday, February 19, 2015

Enter the Season of Lent

I am a sinner. Every single day of my life, I am a sinner. Some days I actually physically feel the weight of my sins more than others. Do you know what I mean? Some days my bad choices, my selfish actions and my hateful words can really haunt me. These are the days when I should really offer myself grace. I'm an imperfect person in an imperfect world so of course I fall short. We all do. I tell myself that we all have these days. (These are also the days when that grace can feel pretty far from reach, if I'm being honest.)
I was supposed to have an amazingly romantic Valentine's Day last week with the most perfect boyfriend. Instead I spent that day alone, watching Bridesmaids and feeling like I never should have broken up with him two weeks before VDay. I was supposed to be traveling on my way to a Bethel Worship Night yesterday in Birmingham, but due to the snow and icy weather conditions here we had to make the decision not to go. I am pissed off about it. I felt like I needed that trip, the community with the people I was going with, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the pick-me-up - all of it. Tension in my family is at an all time high right now. The consequences of my mom & stepbrothers' actions have been really affecting me and I'm just fed up with it.

I've found myself complaining a lot. I've spent about a week solid being pissed off, only with each passing day my anger is growing. I'm mad about how things have gone down with my now ex-boyfriend. I'm pissed off that I still want to be with him and I'm mad at myself for all the back and forth that I have put him through. I broke up with him, why am I so torn up about this? I hate that us not talking makes me feel like he could care less. I'm not in control of this situation. I'm disgusted with my mom. And how in her typical fashion, she finds a way to end up mad at me over the consequences of her actions. I'm not in control of her actions. I'm heartbroken that I feel like I needed this trip for a worship night so badly and it gets cancelled. I'm not in control of the weather. I feel like I'm nearing the end of my rope. Discontent is weighing down my heart.

Enter the season of Lent.
I'm not sure your experience with Lent; my own personal experience has actually been pretty shallow. Until the maybe 3 years ago, I had heard of Lent, but never had a personal connection with it. Heck, I really didn't even know what all it signified in Christian culture. I've never even participated in giving up anything for the season. Last year I did the 40 day Overcome the Lie prayer challenge, which did include giving up something we felt had a hold on us for that time period. It wasn't exactly aligned with Lent though (it started on Feb 1) so I'm still going with the fact that I haven't actively participated.

Yesterday I found this article. Divine timing indeed.

"But this is a messy season. It’s much like our lives. Over time, our hearts and souls, when left unattended, get messy. Lent invites us to deal with the mess. This is not about quickly cleaning things up and pretending they were never there, nor is it about ignoring the mess. Lent invites to roll up our sleeves and sort through the debris of our lives.

We are confronted with our mess, and so on our foreheads we rub a little dirt reminding ourselves that just as Eden has gone to ashes, so, one day, we will too.

This is what Lent does. It allows us to see the parts of ourselves we’d rather leave covered up. It asks us to drag our full self into the light of day no matter how dark it may be. As we near the end of Lent, we encounter Good Friday. For centuries, the people of God mark this day by participating in the Stations of the Cross remembering the trial and crucifixion of Jesus."

Like a slap in the face, I tell ya. A much needed, slap in the face at that. My life feels flat out messy right now. The most comforting truth, for me, is that I am the daughter of a Savior who wants my whole entire heart. The ugly parts, the hurting parts, the doubtful parts, even the prideful parts and especially the parts that are begging for his grace. 

I'm also doing the She Reads Truth Lent Study (started yesterday so you have plenty of time to jump in on this one).  

Joel 2:12-13 (ESV)
Return to the Lord
12 “Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
    and he relents over disaster.
 "Much to my dismay, the call to return to God is not written alongside a long list of to-do’s, an attainable checklist so I can feel sure I’m returning correctly. No, there is just one qualification—to return with all my heart. Evidently the cleaned up, feel-good part of my heart is not all God is looking for. He doesn’t want only the parts of my heart I’m willing to let others see—He wants the whole messy, confused, narcissistic, achy thing. 
So, to recap: You and I and our whole unholy selves are called to turn fully, openly, and sans-covering to the holy, almighty God of all the universe.

[Insert deep breath here.]

It’s no wonder we try to come to Him with layers of lies and pride and every other self-preservation instinct intact. It makes sense, right? Except it doesn’t… because Jesus."

Today's message was clearly written for me, don't you think? I wrote this blog post yesterday afternoon in tears of frustration, not knowing how to clean up my own heart. This morning I am offered these words of hope. I cannot fix my heart. The Lord will heal and restore me. "YET EVEN NOW..." Even after I've served my self first and allowed discontent to settle in,  EVEN NOW God pursues ALL of my heart with steadfast love.
Man, I am beyond words thankful for people who keep it real!! For people who pour out their hearts and confess their fears and inadequacies. Because honestly, we all have them. We all battle with similar demons. I adore the tender moments when I allow myself to feel fully known and surrender my own struggles. There's healing in this process. The Lord continually draws me near to Him and there is no place I would rather be.

So this year for Lent, I want to give up serving myself and all the fears and doubts that go along with that. Lent is ALL ABOUT recognizing our sins and turning away from them, in order to kneel down at the cross. It's about intentional prayer, intentional steps to avoid distractions and just revel in the beauty that is our walk with God. That means diving into my "messy" and revealing the parts of me that cry out to be healed. It's much harder than giving up Diet Coke or social media, but I know it's something that I must do. I want to slow my pace, obey the Lord and I will wait expectantly for him to rekindle that fire in the my soul.

Something extra - I know I said this yesterday, but this song is REALLY speaking to me lately. Take a listen to the words.


Amanda aka Manda said...

Beautiful post my friend! I love your ability to be vulnerable and lay your heart out! He longs for you & He will restore you!!

Joey said...

I grew up Catholic, so I'm very familiar with Lent. But as I strayed from that faith, I also strayed from Lent. I had no intentions of participating this year, but i think this post might have just changed that for me. Much like you, everything feels very messy for me right now. And I've had to come to learn how to rely on nothing and no one but God. And that's UNCOMFORTABLE for me. I have a hard time differentiating what's in MY heart and what's HIS will. I'll need some time to think and pray over what Lent will mean for me this season, but thank you for this post. I intend to participate now. Love you friend.

P!nky said...

Amazing post, lady! I've practice giving up something since I was in elementary school and it's grown from sweets, to no judgements to no social media. this year, I'm trying something else because I feel my heart needs to be cleaned a bit. I've been holding grudges longer than I should and being a bit snappy, when I should be granting grace. My knack for being right trumps the humility I know we are called to have towards others.

Lent is a rebirth but it's a tough season. It really makes you look at the things you've pushed aside, really dig deep in the messy. And that's tough.

I love you and am praying for you as you work through your mess. God's got you and will bring you through!

Meagan Hofer said...

Powerful post girl!! I love this line "So this year for Lent, I want to give up serving myself and all the fears and doubts that go along with that"

so much growth will come from this..praying for you!

Pamela said...

Beautifully written! I have never participated in lent. I just heard about it maybe 5 years ago or so!

Lisa @ Two Martinis said...

This is a beautiful post! I'm doing the She Reads Truth study, as well, and so far (a whole 2 days in) I love it! I loved it last year, too :-) Like you wrote, I also want to work on NOT serving myself this season and going forward, but it's so much easier said than done. BUT, I know with more prayer and focusing on God and allowing Him to lead me and change my heart, anything is possible!

Erin Gandy said...

Beautiful and timely post!

Amy @ Living n Learning said...

I know I am late to the commenting game but I just wanted to say that I love this post! And I love that you share so much with the blogging world. If you don't already know I'll tell you now, you are one of the beautiful (inside and out) ladies who have inspired me to work on my relationship with God.