LENT

If you come from a liturgical background you might want to stop reading right here.

I’ve no idea how much of what I’m about to write may be actually sacrilegious if you are passionately liturgical, but I strongly suspect some of it might.

If it is, I sincerely apologise, that is not my intention at all; but as might be obvious I did not come from a liturgical background.

So, I arrived at adulthood with no intuitive understanding of, and precious little knowledge about, the Liturgical calendar or its observances. Lent had to do with fasting, and somehow with Mardi Gras, which seemed a VERY strange combination. That was about the extent of my relationship with it.

Sounded cool, though. And I tried to fast things a couple times, but I’m sort an out-of-sight, out-of-mind, kind of girl, so I can’t say the fasting did much for my focus on God.

This year as Lent approached yet again, I thought … yet again… “Should I do the Lent thing? What should I fast?”.

Since I’m in the middle of redesigning my life, Lent observance seemed especially timely. But still, I felt no specific connection to Lent.

Then I happened to see an article on what Christians get wrong about Lent, which included the statement

“It’s also important to remember in times of fasting, such as Lent, that we’re not just “giving something up,” but we’re “giving something over…””

and though this was not the author’s point, his statement sparked the thought:

Lent is not just about what we GIVE UP, but about what we ADD in its place.

 

Just as someone might fast food for a day and use the hunger pangs as a reminder to stop and pray for something important, I could do the Lenten fast and use that 40 whole days to remind me to pray first; stress / panic / freak out about how to fix it on my own, second.

I have absolutely no idea if that is the intention of Lent, but, having spent most of my early Christian walk making it up as I went along, little things like precise definitions when it comes to man-made traditions seldom deter me.

Three things DID stand in my way though.

  1. I still had no idea what to give up,
  2. I am still struggling the effects of the Great Life Wreck and while I’m progressing well, I still have deep dips in the faith EKG, so I wasn’t even sure what prayer focus to ADD,
  3. and, I had all these thoughts several days into the Lent season.

Then it occurred to me: I could simply give up the fear, the doubt, the faithlessness, for Lent, and specifically focus on the opposite of it for 40 days!

PERFECT!!!

This did not, alas, provide a time machine back to the start of Lent.

Should I just jump in for the time left?

Do a 40 day fast unrelated to Lent?

Somehow I hated to give up doing my experiment for Lent, now that I had something REAL to devote Lent to.

One of the interesting effects of my day job, which is in a multi-national, multi-denominational, Christian organisation, is that I have to regularly determine not just when ‘regular’ Easter is, but also Orthodox Easter.

They rarely coincide exactly, and one must take that into consideration when planning meetings. It therefore occurred to me that Orthodox Easter was probably preceded by Orthodox LENT.

It was! And Orthodox Lent hadn’t started yet. 

So, that is the long story of how a strictly non-denominational Irish American girl ended up observing Orthodox Lent.

 

When I went through the recent Great Life Wreck, my faith took a solid hit.

This really shocked me, because faith has always be the strongest thing about me, and I’d weathered a dozen storms FAR worse than the Great Life Wreck without a faith related qualm. To now suddenly be doubting and confused over something relatively trivial… this did not sit well!

Not that I ever doubted who God is, or what he’s capable of – I am blessed that those seem to be unshakable in me.

But my sense that he would lead me, that I’d get the message right, that he even CARED where or how I wandered; those got shaken in ways I never would have dreamed possible.

And while I’ve gotten largely back on track, I still have my days. One day I found myself, for all intents and purposes, wondering if thinking well of God was a sinful attitude! THAT is a point where you know you have officially lost it.

So, for Lent this year I am giving up doubting, and negative views of God.

Odd? Almost certainly, though I do not actually know. But odd suits me.

And since my approach here is that it’s not just what you give up, but what you put in its place, I’m using any moments of uncertainty I run into, to remember his promises about what he thinks of me and wants for me, and focusing on the rational truths of my dreams and goals and desires – not the least being that HE designed them into me.

I’m meditating on various verses that I find encouraging and praying for light, and help, with the most sincere trust that is within my current capacity.

And I am expecting transformation and restoration … which is what Easter is all about anyway.

 

Holy Week

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How are you celebrating Holy Week?

Or, if you are like me and come from a background that barely knows there IS something called ‘Holy Week’: What are you doing for Easter?

I am not doing anything especially fancy, but I have come to really relish holidays and celebrations as time set aside to just focus. I find it a special treat to just have one thing to do at a time, especially when that one thing is slow, peaceful enjoyment of friends or family, or being fully present in the celebration of the important things.

And to just focus on restoration, renewal, being freed, being made holy when I could never possibly manage that myself; this is an especially lovely ‘set apart’ time! : )

I have never been a big fan of huge crowds, so I seldom attend Easter services, even when I am more fully connected to my community than I am this current one, but I will certainly plan some peaceful times of reflection and find some ways to make the day special, and the weekend itself a little more special than the usual chores-and-errands.

I wish you great joy in whatever you do through the rest of this week and the Easter holiday!!

Be well.  

Resources: TWLOHA – help and hope

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My first ‘People and Organisations’ resource is

 To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA).

From their website:

To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.

I am not as familiar with TWLOHA as I am with some of the resources I’ll list in these pages, having only encountered them a couple years ago, and only really started paying attention about a year ago, but I respect what they do enormously, and I’ve also come to respect how they do it.

They are able to extend far beyond where I am at on the Your-Life-Matters-More-Than-My-Comfort-Zone scale, and they are making a difference in – and saving – lives because of it.

I am adding TWLOHA because I believe in what they are doing, but also because people from every walk of life, and in every stage of life, may stumble across this blog, and if you happen to be someone who needs some hope, needs some help, today, I want to make sure that you have access to a resource that may be able to provide it.

Main Website to learn about TWLOHA: https://twloha.com

Resource page, to find local help, by state: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

Resource Page to find help based on the problem for which you need help: https://twloha.com/find-help/help-by-topic/

Please note that they also have a section specific to Veterans on the topic page.

You can also find the numbers for local and national, 24 hour, free helplines on all the local pages.