Relaxing and energizing well describe my Lenten season so far. I almost find that hard to believe when looking back at what I wrote for my first "individual exercise" from the book study A Clearing Season.
Here's my "wilderness" from week 1:
I come into every situation in my life with an agenda. I don’t just show up and wonder, “what will happen.” I have an idea, a plan, a purpose for the event, the meeting, the day, the relationship, the study. Uggggh. It’s those expectations that lead me to discouragement and frustration. Others don’t “play my game,” their responses don’t match what I have already figured out should happen. I feel trapped by my expectations and then doubly trapped when others/circumstances don’t fit my mold. I feel like in the past few years I’ve actually gotten better at releasing control in some ways (or at least realized to a greater degree my lack of it in some situations). I truly believe responsibility is overrated because it is so draining. I wouldn’t blame God for wanting to be “hands off” for a while…it must be exhausting work trying to coordinate a universe. Perhaps His power lays in the fact that He never stops. Never stops. Even on the Sabbath God heals, God redeems, God loves, and God is present and active. His rest looks very different than ours.
How do I step into Lent without an agenda? How do I not decide weeks ahead of time what this season is going to be about? I feel out of control, overwhelmed, and/or blocked by my desire to control and to see the finish line before the race has even begun to be run. This is my chaos. Even typing that feels scary. I don’t want to come into anything unprepared. And yet, even when I plan, I organize, I present.... I forget, I mess up, I mumble, I don’t do what I’ve prepared to do. It doesn’t look/feel like what I’ve dreamed or hoped. I stand back and like Beth Moore, say, “What was that?” It aches because I want to be good. I want to serve well, to make a difference in my life and in the lives of others. Uggh, the ugly “I” again.
I wonder if the desire to do well is the desire of the Holy Spirit to work through me, to use the gifts I have, or if it’s about pride. Am I fooling myself? Am I just grasping for attention and praise. Am I a praise junky? Do I still feel, in the core of my being, so lousy about who I am that my attempt at work, relationships, events, is really just about trying to create a “better” me not a window to God? Can it be both? Do I have to deem my self selfish or sacrificial? Can I be both? God, how do I work more out of a desire to sacrifice, submit, and serve out of love for You, not trying to gain love for myself? Do I need to see myself more as a sinner or as a beloved child of God? Which view releases this desire to predict and protect outcomes?
I say I don’t want to “do” Lent, but in my mind, I’ve already done it…and it’s just started. I don’t want to flog myself for this…I know guilt is a lousy long-term motivator/solution. But it makes me crazy that I don’t release myself enough/I’m not open enough to let God take me ANYWHERE and do ANYTHING that HE wants to do with me in this wilderness. Talk about needing a clearing season. I need to clear out me to make room for God. I need to admit that truly doing that would mean that I have no idea what’s going to happen or be the focus of the next 6 weeks.
So now fast-forward and it's week 4 of the study. What emerged out of that initial frustration was a desire to run and to blog as my Lenten practices. After confessing my need for control (even in the processes that are supposed to be God-led) I felt a tremendous freedom. God answered my request to release this season to Him, and so far it's been incredibly rejuvenating to sit down and blog when God's put something on my heart to write about - aka: not daily because I have to, it's Lent for goodness sake. I've been on some runs, but then ya know, I fell. So running was out for a week. I tried running again and it was painful. I've been a bit irritated by the set backs I'm experiencing in training for the 1/2 marathon this summer, but overall I've had a sense of contentment (even laughter) at how out of control I've had to be with my running regimen. Again, God is showing me his redeeming love. I don't believe He wanted me to hurt my rib, strain my chest muscles, and scrape up my hand and knees - but I do choose to believe that God has taken that situation and used it to teach me that I can't predict and protect outcomes. I really truly cannot "do" Lent. God does. Hallelujah!
|God's helped me to shift my focus, release control, give me awesome options for Lent, and has faithfully shown his command. Feeling very grateful for the space to write about God's goodness this clearing season.|