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lent

Encounter

The Ultimate Delusion

March 13, 2019

“Thus, the first point that gives the fundamental tone to our Christian personality is this: the living awareness that salvation, liberation—words that mean the same thing— are found in a reality that is already present in man’s life: Christ. The opposite of this first point is seeking salvation, that is the meaning of our actions and those of others, the meaning of time and of the world, by establishing it in something made by our own hands. This happens in our personal life, for example, when we cry over our dreams or when our plans do not work out. We delude ourselves because we have placed all our hope in human strength.”

Giussani, L. (1986). Morality: Memory and desire. San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

Every year for the past 8 years, lent has been a serious period of reflection for me. Without fail, there has been something that has caused me to question if I actually trust God, and the plan that he has laid out for me.

It always hits me like a ton of bricks- I am just living my life, doing my thing and casually thinking I trust God. I blindly follow Him into the desert, thinking “hey, I’ve got this. I am happy and trusting God and theres no issues here.” Then he gets me out there and I swear, every single year he just like *POOF* up and disappears.

And I look around, and theres nothing but sand as far as the eye can see (my worst nightmare) and I feel deeply alone.

As my carefully constructed universe comes crashing down around me, I come face to face with the truth that lies deep within me. As a Type A person, I always have a plan. And a back up plan. And a back up plan for that too, actually. Every hour of every day is carefully accounted for, work, school, prayer, community, volunteering, read a book, write for the blog, buy milk. The list goes on and on.

And when things don’t go according to my plan? I get more and more anxious. I start to shut down and then get nothing done which further spirals me into more anxiety because nothing is getting done. I put my trust in my ability to get shit done, on time and to the best of my abilities, at all times. I place all my hope in my human strength.

You can see how this a recipe for disaster in this season of reflection and purification we have embarked on… right?

Well friends, lent started a week ago. Just like most lents, it started in a packed church (well, gym this year, but I digress) with lots of people waiting to get their ashes. And I didn’t think much of it, except to commit to finding God in the center of my mess. I said this so cavalierly, like “oh hey, its no big deal. I’ll just find God in everything and that will make it a good Lent.”

Oops.

You can guess what came next… right?

School got hard. My group seems to be on the brink of destruction every time I turn around. Did I mention that we have our capstone due on March 27th? Nobody’s schedules line up. There’s additional meetings, and things need to get done. I need to print out how many copies of the 30+ page thesis? And put it in tabbed binders with a deck as well? Who am I, Rockefeller? Sheesh!

I am still trying to get my house ready for a baby to come home to. I am so blessed that I have so many people who love me, and want to gift me with the things I need to take care of my little girl. And right now, I am frantically cleaning and purging to make sure I have room for all of these things.

I have a class at the hospital with the doula program. I have a class at the hospital on breastfeeding. I have to get stuff together for a baptism and did you know you have to go to a class for that too?

And then there is just the whole being pregnant bit. No matter how many books I read, how many vegetables I eat, or how many kick counts I do, this whole thing is kind of out of my control. And that is one of the scariest things I have ever had to experience.

Ultimately, I can plan all I want, but it doesn’t matter. I have to trust that God gave me this tiny person for a reason, and that He will not lead me astray.

As I enter into the craziest weeks of my life thus far, I am certainly entering the proverbial desert.

But I am reminding myself that God would never lead me into a desert that He does not intend to lead me out of. And that even if I feel alone, He is always there.

Here’s to hoping that this lent leads me to a deeper understanding of the true meaning of trust.

Encounter

Come and See: Lent 2019

March 6, 2019

“Every year the Church proposes this time to us as an opportunity to look at our lives, at our days, and for each of us to ask ourselves, “Am I following Jesus inside the story in which He presented himself to me? From what signs do I see that I am following Him?” (https://english.clonline.org/cm-files/2019/02/28/carrón-soc-notes-2-20-2019-final-watermark-pdf.pdf)

And with that, Lent is upon us once more. I don’t even know where the time has gone. Maybe the time just evaporated. More likely, I wasn’t paying attention and now here we are.

I’ve noticed that Lent can become a bit of a contest amongst my catholic friends. Who can give up more? Who can add more? You aren’t fasting (News Flash- NO, I am not, actually. I am 7.5 months pregnant I don’t have to fast)?! All of these things so often leaving me feeling like I am less of a Christian for not having some big ole master plan to turn into a Desert Father and be hermit for 40 days while living on bugs and honey and wearing a shirt made out of hair.

So Lent rolls around this year and I have to ask myself- what am I missing? What is the greater point of this beautifully desolate season we are embarking on?

As I was reading through the notes for School of Community (SoC), this line struck me to my core (the link above will take you to the full notes if you’d like to read them as well!).

Am I following Jesus inside the story He presented Himself to me? From what signs do I see that I am following Him?

With these questions I began to wonder if how I saw Lent has been wrong all along anyways. It’s not about giving up chocolate or Facebook. Sure, these things are good sacrifices, and when our time spent aimlessly scrolling through social media becomes filled with moments of encountering the living Christ they become well worth it.

But if I give up social media, am I really spending the hour per day that my phone says I am on my social media apps in quiet prayer? If I give up food am I really turning that back on itself and thinking of God? Or am I sitting there pissed off that I can’t have the dark chocolate because I gave it up for Lent? Worse still, do I feel that God is going to kick me to the curb if I do eat the chocolate or check my Instagram account?

Since the New Year I have been trying to establish healthy habits before my daughter gets here. Making sure the kitchen is clean before I go to bed. Doing the laundry before the pile becomes a tripping hazard. Brushing my teeth for two full minutes, morning and evening. Journalling the things I am grateful for every evening. Eating three square meals a day.

And yet, not one of these things has been a thing to increase my time spent with God. They are things that bring me peace, and ultimately allow me to be a better person. But they don’t specifically scream THIS IS TIME SET ASIDE FOR GOD.

My husband and I were chatting about Lent and what we wanted to do to help us strengthen our spiritual habits before the baby gets here. And I tossed around a lot of ideas. Hell- I even said morning prayer this morning because I saw it sitting on my end table and thought- why not (and low key- I really enjoyed being back in the psalms, as I always do)?

But then I come back to this question: Am I following Jesus inside the story He has presented Himself to me? And I realize that this lent is so very important for me as a person.

Jesus is with me in the piles of boxes that show me just how loved my daughter is. Jesus is with me in the 4th load of laundry, ensuring I get my steps in for the day because I have to keep going up and down to get everything situated. Jesus is with me in the late night editing of my thesis. Jesus is in my instagram feed- where we celebrate each other, and add more beauty to a dark and scary world. Jesus is in each text message I send, making sure someone knows just how loved they are.

How easily I had forgotten that He is there. The point of this whole love story in which He has presented Himself to me is that He is always with me. He is with me in the mess, He is with me in the trenches. He has never abandoned me, and I have never had to do this alone. How easily I had forgotten that I am not a one woman show. I was not meant to take on the weight of the world, and all I had to do was remember that He was there to take on most of the burden for me.

So this Lent, I am recommitting to finding Jesus in every moment of my day. I am promising to remember that I am not alone, and that He wants to be there with me. I am not giving something up. I am not adding in more than I can handle. I am simply going to remember that He is here, and that my life needs to be a living, breathing testament to this fact. I am going to spend more time being grateful, and make sure that everything I do is a resounding “Come and See” about the guy that makes my life as beautiful as it is.