On collective grief & confession; the lament.

Solomon’s Room. 445am.

It’s 445am and Solomon is feeding. He’s not settling. Which is fine. I mean I’d prefer to be asleep, of course. But it’s ok. I’ll sit here longer and feed. I’ve got nowhere else to be. I can sit here longer and rock on my chair.

I’ve started reading The Handmaid’s Tale. It is confronting in a new way since I’ve watched the series. Not because of the atrocities that the depicted culture performs and condones; this of course is present, but tonight/this morning/lately, the protagonist speaks of what life used to look like, the things she misses and that which she took for granted. I can only read a couple pages at a time: the topic hits much closer to home than it ever did.

That’s my confession tonight. It is not particularly profound: I just miss lots of things. I miss certainty in work. I miss opportunities to occupy outside my home. I miss playgrounds and play dates. I miss the lack of fear and risk that permeates our interactions with other people. I also know that it hasn’t been that long, and I also acknowledge what a privilege it is to have a safe home to be.

But I still feel the lament.

Scrolling social media over the past weeks – which many of us have/are/will do- have you noticed a change in tone? I have. There is still rubbish and information overload, but I also find myself less envious of others’ Instagram posts. I find people are updating statuses with vulnerability and creativity. People are posting far less about #livingmybestflife, or #lookhowawesomeIam, and much more about simple pleasures, aspects of gratefulness, but also their grief for what this pandemic has cost them, or what it is doing to the world, to people they’ve never met. How wonderful. I’ve read more honest stories on social media over the past few weeks than I ever have. I’ve seen less polished performances and more humble offerings of creativity and generosity. It can still be noisy and overwhelming, but the tone is less aggressive somehow.

The collective grief that we’re all experiencing is/may be the singular event of our lives. What other story has impacted every country, economy and family like this? Covid-19 exposes the privilege and poverty of different spaces and places, but it also beautifully reveals the common humanity we have. And the tool that is at our disposal- the true strength of the social media medium- can be a way for us to communicate our collective experience.

There is an incredible spiritual principle of lament* in many faith traditions: the practice of “calling out” our sorrow. It is the deep, guttural “WHY?” when we don’t know the reason or the outcome. As N.T. Wright has argued recently:

It is no part of the Christian vocation, then, to be able to explain what’s happening and why. In fact, it is part of the Christian vocation not to be able to explain—and to lament instead

Wright, 2020

Lament, then is a heart cry that connects the personal story of loss to the public narrative of grief. It is the practice of speaking out and giving language to the mess- in order for us to move from sorrow into joy. Speaking out pain brings exposure and healing in a way that silence does not; indeed, as Breugemann writes:

Lament is an invitation to a public practice in a society that has no other text that is adequate to our newly embraced loss…

Brueggemann, 2003

Moreover, one of the incredible aspects of lament is the way that it requires an audience. It is the sharing and hearing of grief that gives the story its healing qualities. In the psalms the audience is God:

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭69:1-3

I have been encouraged time and time again in the way that the scriptures, particularly the Psalms, champion and call us to lament: it speaks of a God who cares about our circumstance, one who Laments with us, and also one who knows the process that healing requires.

While God is often the primary recipient of lament, the audience of confession can also be each other. We are also called to confess to each other to be healed (James 5:16). When we confess to each other, not only are we restored to relationship and connection, but our lament may just give someone else words to voice their own similar story. Confession and lament can be interwoven together in the same grief.

Basically this is my long winded way of saying KEEP confessing. Keep story telling. Start posting. Even if it’s embarrassing and makes you cringe in your vulnerability. Keep lamenting. Even if it feels overwhelming and murky, like a tune that has a discordant chord that longs for a resolve. It’s ok if we don’t know the answer. The point is to speak.

The practice of lament, the celebration of collective and individual confession, is the vehicle of healing and one of the ways that we as a country/culture/world can ride out this storm. X

*many others have written far more extensively on Lament: I refer you to the great N.T. Wright or Walter Bruegemann or Matthew Jacoby for further exploration & illumination of the concept.

On choosing laundry tiles and anxiety attacks

About 18 months ago my husband and I were in the latter stages of our house build. After 2 years we were finally coming up to the point that for many is an exciting stage: bathrooms & wet areas. Unfortunately for me however, this is a nightmare scenario. Bathrooms mean fixtures. Sinks. Toilets. And the kicker: TILES. All of these needed to be picked and decided upon.

If you’re decisively-challenged like me, it ain’t no fun being presented with a choice that you’re going to have to look at and live with for the rest of your life, no. Rather, it’s your proper torture device. Kirsten’s internal monologue in this scenario: RUN!!

What if I don’t like it? What if other people don’t like it?? 

Over the years I’ve almost perfected the art of forgoing and defaulting my choice, often leaving the decision to others, and of late, my husband. This has been something I have done in many relationships, mostly because I have been desperate for people to like me – so if they make the choice (of restaurant, activity, movie, tiles), they can’t be disappointed in me.

Why is this? Do I believe I have bad taste? No. Do I believe that I need to concede my choice to males? No. But the fear of disappointment, the fear of creating a reason for someone not to like me? That’s the world ending. It’s painful. I don’t enjoy it. Even if the consequence of constantly saying “I don’t mind, you pick” is actually the other person resenting you for it, the practice is so deeply ingrained in me, I continue it, despite it being debilitating for me, and deeply annoying for those who know me.

Hence when I was given the task of going down to the local tile store to pick our laundry floor, I couldn’t do it. I tried: I went to the store three times. I returned 2 sets of tiles to the store after bringing them home and hating my selection. 

Cue meltdown.  I ended up on our kitchen floor in a fetal position because I couldn’t pick a tile. I couldn’t make a choice and back that choice. I stayed on that floor for over an hour, disgusted with myself. I was pathetic. And I hated myself for being so. So now not only could I not make decisions, but even when I recognised the destructive nature of indecision, I still couldn’t make a choice. 

I understand the ridiculousness of this moment: tiles don’t matter. Especially laundry floor tiles! Who even cares?  

It wasn’t about the tiles. This post isn’t about tiles.

The thing is, even knowing myself, even in the pain of lying on the ground in an anxiety attack, I had no pity for that woman. I was disgusting to myself at this point.

JUST MAKE THE CHOICE, KIRSTEN. BE BETTER. GET OVER IT. I was standing over myself, critical and full of judgement. 

I spent an entire session with my wonderful psych about this a couple of weeks later (this is a little embarrassing to admit). We spent time talking about my recurring fear of decision making, but she also encouraged me to spend time looking at my hatred and disgust of myself too. She kept asking me how I was feeling toward myself at that moment, and the words kept repeating: Shame. Disgust. Frustration. Hatred.

She then stopped me in my tracks and asked me what that woman on the floor actually needed:

Compassion.

That’s it.  

She asked me to ‘parent myself’ in that moment and imagine what a compassionate parent would be feeling and acting towards me on that kitchen floor. Rather than judgement, not only was it completely acceptable to feel pity towards myself, but it was also appropriate – and much more helpful – to extend compassion and grace to a young girl who just wanted to be told that it was ok that she was scared. And that she was ok too.

We need judgement FAR less than we need compassion. Judgement rarely inspires healing, growth and life-giving decisions. Even if it is ourselves who are floundering or indecisive or completely in the wrong. 

I have returned to that moment a lot since it happened. In my times of anxiety and self-hatred I imagine myself on the floor in the kitchen – but now I also try to picture the compassionate parent who sees her. What would be helpful to say to her? I try to imagine the compassion that is needed.  

And I try to EXTEND IT TO MYSELF.

Thanks to Shan who told me to write today.  

Also thanks to Shan who ended up picking the laundry tile. They’re grey.
In case you were wondering. X

Allowing the Ferment: Or, what Kombucha has annoyingly taught me about the process of reflection

Kombucha. What a millennial marketing dream.

“Look guys, here’s a drink that is homemade and environmentally conscious and healthy but also feel free to buy it from us and feel so much better than everyone else when you drink it.”

Many of you will know Kombucha devotees who preach about its benefits to everyone and anyone who will listen. They will tell you to stop buying/drinking soft drink. They even may tell you how easy it is to make your own.

Now my first reaction, like many of these fads things, is a roll of the eyes. FAD ALERT AHOY!! OPPORTUNITY FOR CONSUMERIST EXPLOITATION AHOY! Mostly I wish I bought shares in Kombucha years ago. Even if that were possible.

The amazingly annoying thing, is that kombucha is actually really good for you – as is many many things that are fermented. Fermenting is the process of a chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria – bringing agitation, excitement and effervescence. The positive outcomes of fermentation, are a plethora. It’s also really tasty. Yes, I admit it.

According to choice Here’s just a few; it Preserves food,  Adds good microbes to the gut, Increases micronutrients, Makes food more palatable, Changes taste,  Eliminates anti-nutrients,  Decreases cooking times, and Produces carbon dioxide (yay for bread and beer and champagne). Indeed, before we understood the chemistry within, fermentation was believed to be a divine process, a gift from God himself.

Now despite the base ingredients, the common feature of all fermentation reactions?

Time. It’s the process that brings the benefit.

So it’s got me thinking lately. Is there also a benefit of allowing ideas, concepts, lessons, to ferment within me?

I am an educator. I truly love the teaching process. I love introducing concepts to my students (or friends or family  – I apologise to all of my long suffering mates) and seeing them wrestle with it – even better if we wrestle with it together.

So many times in my life, if I come across a gem of an idea, or a concept that I read about, I instantly think of how/where/who I could share that concept with. Many times in my study I think – who is this for? What lesson is this? In many ways, this is a good thing right? Long live public debate; the exchange of ideas, the grappling of concepts.

But here’s the thing. Maybe I need to allow concepts a little bit of fermenting time in order for them to achieve their true potential – or even for me to truly learn the lesson for myself – before I share them prematurely.

The story that keeps coming to mind for me is when Mary (mother of Jesus) hears this ridiculously amazing thing about the baby that she’s just given birth to. She is witness to the shepherd’s story of a HOST OF ANGELS in the SKY, singing glory to God. About HER baby. And what is her response to this incredible event/news?

“But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” (Luke 2:19)

For many years I’ve always been dumbfounded and a bit annoyed at Mary and her reaction. Really? This is your response? You have confirmation of the deity of your newborn, and you ‘think about these things often’? Surely the first thing you want to do is tell other people about this, just like the shepherds did.

Come on Mary, don’t be lame.

But maybe Mary’s not being lame here. Maybe this is the ferment. Perhaps it’s a picture of something so wonderful, so special, that it requires a treasuring first before it’s shared with other people. The discernment and reflection gives honour and worth to the experience.

I understand the perhaps double standard nature of this post: Why are you sharing about not sharing Kirsten, in a format most famous for exposure? I hear this critique. Point Taken.

But mostly I think it’s a wonderful and weighty call that we can take seriously the responsibility of what we learn for ourselves, and then what we can share with the people in our world. All of us have opportunities to speak and be heard; some of us even have the privilege of being in responsibility and paid positions to do so.

If you are, could I encourage you, sit in the ferment. If you have a lesson that you’re learning, be honest about that stage – with yourself. It’s not about not being vulnerable, but perhaps it is a question of honouring what the process of reflection does for us.

Jesus honours the one who prays in secret – can we perhaps honour our stories and moments, giving ferment to them – so that when we do share, the words are curated, full of life; of effervescence, and much more palatable?

Can you advocate for me?

So you’ve had an illness for some weeks now. Maybe it’s a cough, maybe it’s a headache that just won’t go away no matter how many pills you pop, maybe it’s your kid who has had 17 ear infections in the past year. So you go to the doctor, perhaps again. You can’t get into the Doctor you normally see and so you’re scheduled with a very educated and very well meaning other stranger doctor who hears your story, checks your symptoms, maybe writes you a script, or if worse comes to worse, tells you to keep up the fluids and to ‘wait and see’. 

You still don’t feel better. 

You walk  away from the experience feeling disappointed and unsatisfied. 

Why is that? I mean the obvious answer is that it’s annoying because the doctor couldn’t or didn’t fix us. We go to doctors to get help, right? 


I’ve got nothing against the medical profession by the way – I’m grateful for those in our midst who were willing to sacrifice the years of study to know way more about the human body than I will ever  do – but again, so many times when I’ve sought help from health or other services I walk away feeling deflated. 

Maybe it’s because there’s something else going on under the surface. I think the disappoint may also lie in the fact that what we really long for is someone to be our advocate. Someone to take up our cause and say “I see you! I hear your problem. Let’s make this better for you.” We long for someone to follow through with that promise and not to stop until they’ve exhausted all options and it DOES feel better. 

The thing is, that’s not necessarily going to happen at your local gp’s office. I mean, who’s got time for that? 

I was reading this this morning though and it stopped me in my tracks.

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’ “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.”

‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:55-58‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Be careful, oh my soul. Be alert, Kirsten. As weary as you may be, Be aware of who you’re looking to to save you…but take heart. 

Do I want someone to follow through on their promise?

Do I want someone who knew me then, knows me now and will know me in the future?

Do I want someone to hear me and advocate for my cause? 

Here he is. 

Police Never Die, or What Boney M Taught Me About Christmas

So here’s a Christmas story for you.

Growing up, every year we would pick up our highly anticipated real Christmas tree from our local church and put it on the roof of our mini, then my dad would carefully arrange the tree in an old oil can with piece of bricks to stabilise it.

We would then put on 2 Lp albums on at the insistence of my sister and I; Boney M’s Christmas Album, and a Tijuana Christmas (Both still excellent choices).

Then as we decorated the tree, we would sing along. My personal favourite was Police Never Die. You are not familiar?

Let me refresh your memory:

“Police never die, police never die, police never die, mucho do wando police to die, I want to wish you a merry Christmas..I want to wish you a merry Christmas…I want to wish you a merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart…”

It took me YEARS to realise that I was very mistaken in the lyrical content.

I still prefer my version.

When one of my cousins was still young, with the clever idea of making her own presents at Christmas, she stole her father’s mouse pad from the computer in June and hid it for six months, then gave it to him on Christmas Day. I still remember his reaction; “Oh, there it is!”, and then thanked his daughter, even though he had replaced the item months before after it went missing….

The point of these stories? The things that we love, the traditions that we hold to, may be slightly less than perfect. They may even be a little ridiculous. The Christmas hats from your crackers may look stupid on your head. You may have to drive all the way across town to travel to a family gathering. You may have to brave the busy shops more than once to get that last minute present. You also receive a present that you don’t like.

Does it matter? No.

One of the things that I learned in my studies of camps is that Rituals, when they are understood, are POWERFUL. They are the ways by which we understand our culture, our family, even our faith. We understand much more through participation than we ever do by observation. I’ll say that again.

We understand much more through participation than we ever do by observation.

This is not to say that traditions can actually cause pain. This happens when they are prioritised over what they are supposed to represent; at Christmas, this can often occur when shopping for gift giving overwhelms a genuine spirit of generosity. Or a forced-fake smile at family gatherings required even when there is difficulty in the relationships. Or when the festivities remind you of people that are no longer with us. Or when we crowd the calendar with so much stuff that we don’t even get any time to enjoy the ‘fun’.

The thing is though, these practices are the ones that form the strongest memories. I am grateful to my parents who, when we were young, tried to convince us that Santa came early to our house because we opened our presents on Christmas eve. I am thankful to my mum who gave us Christmas decorations each year so that one day we would have our own collection. I admire my Dad for showing excitement when he was given another pair of socks and a jar of chocolate coated peanuts. I am thankful to my aunties for making cucumber and tomato salads every year because they remind me of my Nanna at Christmas. and I am really really thankful for a God who decided to participate in my life by sending his son to be born for me.

Love is born
With a dark and troubled face
When hope is dead
And in the most unlikely place
Love is born:
Love is always born.

fjdksla

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Michael Leunig, the very talented cartoonist of the above once said;

“the search for the sublime may sometimes have a ridiculous beginning”.

I love that. even when our attempts at the sublime, the sacred, the wonderful, the memorable, are ridiculous, are awkward, or even are a disaster, they must be attempted.

Your family needs it. You need it. And at the risk of sounding ridiculous myself, I think our country and world needs it.

So that’s why I will always push for a real tree (even though the needles clog up the vacuum cleaner) because it marks the real beginning of the season in my household. It’s why I will enlarge my collection of Christmas music every year to listen to. It’s why I will spend time searching for that perfect gift. It’s also why I want to make an effort with my family during this time because I want to know them as actual people, not just some randoms that I’m related to.

Maybe even if it’s ridiculous, try to really celebrate this year. Redeem the traditions in your life and your family. Attempt the sublime.

You can even sing a chorus of Police Never Die if it gets you in the mood….

its been a year…

This is Joan

She loved to travel

She was a lefty

She was an incredible teacher

She liked to abbreviate, almost to the point of being compltly illgbl

She sang the lullaby “oranges and lemons” to my sister and I when we were going to sleep

She loved going out with friends for dinner, especially when she could use an entertainment card to receive 25% off

If it was a crime novel, she read it.

If it was a British show (about anything), she watched it

She cut out articles on travel, investing, and recipes out of newspapers and magazines

She loved her friends. and her family.

It is very difficult at times to understand that this person is gone. The person who was sick and bedridden? I can get that she’s gone. But it’s much harder to believe that the woman who made chocolate slab cakes and worked so hard for her family is gone.

The reality, however, is that they’re the same person.

The same person who struggled with cancer, who faced the sudden death of her husband, was the same woman who was gracious and generous with everyone who visited her in hospital, even when she was exhausted.

The same woman who loved going out to enjoy food was the same woman who, last year, closed her eyes whenever she tasted food or had coffee (or the occasional glass of wine) because it was one of the last things she could still enjoy during that time.

The truth is, I miss all of her. And it really sucks that she’s not here, that dad’s not here either, and as my sister and I approach years of (hopefully) families and kids, the thing that really hurts the most is that those kids won’t know who their grandparents were.

But there’s also a but.

This is not the massive-encompassing “BUT” that claims that everything is amazing and fantastic and grief- free. It’s a small one.

BUT

My sister, gorgeous photographer that she is, started taking photos to document times that we as a family spent together during those last months. That’s weird, right? Why document mum in that state? Without hair, with swollen face and limbs, in all that pain? Why force yourself to remember her like that?

Why? It was still mum.
Her eyes were the same. Her smile was the same. Her loving us the best way she knew how was the same. Despite the fear that she had of what was happening to her, despite her often denial of the reality we were all being faced with, it was still her.

When I look at those photos now, I am reminded of her pain, absolutely, but also of the power of grace during those times. I’m reminded of this bible verse that says

“God uses the foolish things in this world to shame the wise”.

The foolish thing is to think that mum was powerful during that time. She wasn’t in a lot of ways. In most ways, actually. She couldn’t walk, sit up, feed herself, or even hold a book to read it.

BUT

She spent time talking to her friends

She gave her time to a researcher who came to interview her, because she knew how much I appreciated when people gave me their time in my studies.

She gave a young nurse who was getting married some platters she didn’t need

She paid for a friend to have their house cleaned before they went overseas, just so she could spend some quality time with her own husband and daughter

She took the trip to meadows in an uncomfortable taxi so she could see her sister get married

Her sisters and sons in law learned much about her teaching life, and the incredible influence she was to many people at her school

Her time in hospital, especially the last few days, gave us the opportunity to talk, and laugh, and pray, and eat, and drink together.

Even in that state of ‘weakness’, she was powerful.

Even in that state of ‘foolishness’, god’s glory was powerful and prominent. And present.

And something I can’t ignore. That’s what I’m thankful for. And there’s the but in the day(s) where I mostly want to be sad.

Missing & loving you Mumsie, today and everyday. Hope you’re enjoying that plane ride….

Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life…”

20111114-081755.jpg

“let this be written…”

So you’ve heard that we live in postmodernity? Wrong. I’m here to tell you today that we live in a world of over-articulation.*

It’s true. Well, perhaps I do and the rest of you live in that postmodernity land.

The access to social media and the opportunity to blog and the fact that I’m a little too excited about following photography blogs means that a large slice of my day/thought processes/is centred on the idea and calling that you need to express about your life. To articulate it beautifully. Share frustrations. Share hopes. Share funny commentary, share beautiful trees that happen to be in your own front yard:

This is so much pressure! What if I’m just adding noise to an already noisy cacophony**?

And while there is so much wonderfulness about the opportunity for me, for us to share what’s going on with our lives, it carries a certain expectation that your life is worth writing about. Or taking photos of.

Of course it is, but I’m still brought to a halt when I think about the shortcomings of what I invest my time in. Of who I am. Of the words that I share with those around me from day to day. Of the cause that I want to be part of. I feel frustrated and somewhat disappointed that the life I’m living is only a shadow of the faith that I want, the example that I want to demonstrate, the encouragement I want to be a source of.

But I was just reading psalm 102 and a few versus struck me:

But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favour to her;
the appointed time has come.
14 For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
15 The nations will fear the name of the LORD,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
16 For the LORD will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea.

 18 Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD:

19 “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
21 So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the LORD.

Regardless of my own insecurity and worry that even after 10 years of uni I still haven’t worked out what I want to do with my life, something gets to me about how your life can map something out for a future generation, for those who aren’t yet born so they can know Jesus. The fact that God is powerful and is the saviour of those who are afflicted. That he is a God of justice and freedom….

Holy Heck. How I want my life to be one that can be written for a future generation, even if it is just my own…

This psalm was written by one who wasn’t in a good place. He was in the midst of trouble, fainting, and pleading before his God. Check this:

Hear my prayer, LORD;
let my cry for help come to you.
2 Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.

3 For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
4 My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
5 In my distress I groan aloud
and am reduced to skin and bones.
6 I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
7 I lie awake; I have become
like a bird alone on a roof.

In the haze of torment and despair, he knew of God’s faithfulness and the wonderful complicated and compelling joy it is to follow in his footsteps and allow your life to proclaim his.

I think quite often I get so caught up with questioning if my life means enough (or at least, something that’s worth writing about), that I don’t actually remember to get on with it.

When the psalmist’s life was a mess and he didn’t have anything to blog about his own achievements, he spoke of God’s instead…

Perhaps this then is something worth articulating today.

“Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the LORD……”

 What is your life writing for a future generation?

-kirst

*  I am acutely aware of my own hypocrisy articulating frustration about over-articulation through a blog entry. I hope you will forgive me and put it down to playful irony…

**(Jarring, discordant sound; dissonance = good word)

how to avoid giving your child a ridiculous name.

I am not a mother. I am, however, a godmother, friend, sister, and possibly will be in the parent category someday. In light of this, I hold grave concerns for many children who are born from those in our generation who think it is ok to name their child a ridiculous name.

It is NOT ok.

Thus to avoid possible disasters of name mishaps in the future, I have devised a simple flow chart for expectant or new parents who are in the process of naming their children. Distribute to all those that you believe are in danger.

So you’ve had a baby? Congratulations! About to name your child La-a? Pear? Voltron? Symphony? Beautiphul?

 

Take 5 minutes with this quick and easy flow chart. You may just save your child years of pain and torment.

(click on the chart to a see a larger version if it appears fuzzy)

 


Hard work is not the opposite of grace, it is the result of experiencing grace.

D. A. Carson explains:

“People do not drift toward Holiness.

Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.

(For the Love of God, Volume 2)

Lent Learnings

i have only ever given up something for lent once in my life, and

it was chocolate. it was years ago. i remember it being quasi-difficult, but i also remember the double incentives present in the lack of chocolate that was infiltrating my diet during those four weeks.

now in 2011, after several easters that seemed to spring up on me without much reflection, and let’s face it, not much outcome because of it, it appears that this year calls me for another attempt at denying something through lent.

Fasting is the denial of something (usually of bodily requirements), creating within you spiritual thirst. It seems that we deny something of ourselves in order to allow space for God to move in us. Many of my friends have declared several very worthy denials this year: facebook, chocolate, bad day time television, or even television at all.

I’ve had some trouble deciding where to go. yet i think i’ve come to it.
The following statement is one that i will be engaging in in the next 40 days:

image

things that matter that immediately come to mind: meals. sleep. conversations.

instead of believing that I’m actually marty-mcflying it and manipulating time by watching television and eating my tea at the same time, or facebooking while I’m “trying” to sleep, or playing solitaire while having a conversation with a friend, or reading an important article on the drive to work, or eating lunch at work at my desk, I’m going to endeavour to do one thing at a time, just as they are. If I run out of time and happen to find myself trying to get dressed while blow drying my hair and brushing my teeth while applying mascara, i think i’ll allow myself some latitude because these things don’t matter as much as

conversations with my husband over our dinner
restful sleep and recuperation for the next day
conversations with my dear friends near and far.

I realise that this denial is a little bit abstract and may not sit comfortably in the ‘what are you giving up for lent’ category, but I’m looking forward to seeing how me (attempting to) give up the urge to increase quantity in my time may actually increase the quality of said time.

I’m looking forward to lunch sans my desk because I’m going to take my journal and do some writing, and spend time doing it. I might take my bible. I might even get some actual decent time with God. Who knows. it might blow my mind.

let’s see how we go.

looking forward to easter though….