If I’m honest, 2020 started off quite difficult for me. In January, I had three wisdom teeth removed–which apparently is a THING for some people. It took me three solid weeks to recover from the procedure. (I’m sure my attempt to preach two days after the extractions did not help my trajectory for recovery, oh hindsight.)
As soon as I felt back to normal from my dental work, I came down with a virus that landed me in bed with a fever of 102 for three days.
February started with both of our family cars landing in the shop in need of significant repairs and a rejection letter from one of the PhD programs I’d applied to.
I love the fresh start of a New Year, and I love to hit the ground running on resolutions and intentions, centering my life anew. But the start of 2020 has been full of jolting starts and stops, and more discouraging days than hopeful ones.
That’s why, as the Lenten season approaches I’m thinking differently about how to faithfully bring myself to the season. Lent is a 40 day period of observance in preparation for Easter. Traditionally, it’s a solemn time, beginning with a reminder of the frailty of life and inevitability of death on Ash Wednesday and continuing through the remembrance of Christ’s death on Good Friday.
Many people choose to fast in some way during Lent, a re-orienting of patterns to draw attention to the presence of Christ and the sustaining work on the Spirit in daily life. Rather than food or alcohol or social media though, I find myself centering my days around clutching tightly to my criticism. Like a security blanket, I wrap my fingers tightly in the comforting bulk of my concerns about life, my judgments of myself and others, and I drag them throughout my day. An insistence that things will not improve trailing behind me like Linus’ blue blanket.
So this year for Lent, I’m giving up criticism and self-loathing. I’m fasting from hopelessness and fear.
Not because anything right now warrants it, but because hope is an act of resistance.
Maybe instead of ashes, this year we need confetti.
Maybe instead of thorns, this year we need flowers.
Not because everything is sunshine and roses, but because those things persist even still.
Barbara Kingsolver writes that “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope.” This Lenten season I am practicing living inside of hope, and I would love for you to join me.
I’ll be posting daily Lenten reflection beginning this week on Ash Wednesday (or Confetti Wednesday if you will).
If you’d like to receive my “Lent-ish” reflections directly in your inbox each morning, click here. Otherwise, they’ll be published here each afternoon.
This season, may you know the firm grip of grace on the days where God’s goodness is easy to believe, and the days when it seems impossible.