Last week was a hazy sweep of work, laughter, emotion and action. The days smudged together and time warped and Friday night was so welcome. The week exhaled to a close.
I’ve been thinking about Lent in between all of the chaos. I have a few blog posts written and saved in a document on my laptop that wander through my thoughts about Lent, but none of them seemed authentic enough to share.
Last year, I engaged in Lent for one of the first times and it altered something in me on a very deep level. It taught me about looking outward rather than inward. It taught me about trust and prayer and walking on the edge of wonder and anticipation.
I prayed for five different people over the forty days of Lent. I didn’t decide to do this because of Lent, but it happened to come up around the same time, so I ran parallel to it, grafting myself into the practice. The five people didn’t know that I was praying for them, but I saw very direct and clear answers to my prayers manifested in their lives. Something fresh and rich grew up in me during that time and I point to that season as one of the most healthy and vibrant periods in my life.
I wanted to recreate that experience again this year. I wanted to have a focus and a direction and, to be honest, a cool story to tell about it. I’ve been trying to bend myself into Lent by attempting to find something meaningful to give up. Lent has already started and I still haven’t pinpointed what to go without.
What is really resonating in my spirit right now is a quiet “wait for me.” I think that I might simply need to use this Lenten season to sit and wait in expectation for God. Something in me pushes back against this. I don’t want to wait. I want to see. I want to experience. I want the miracle and the transformation right now.
On the weekend, I engaged in a worship session that brushed up against a callous place in me. I realized that, somehow, I’ve been gripping burdens like a lifeline and their weight is pulling me down, suffocating my spirit, squelching my joy at times. I don’t know what exactly I’m holding onto, but it is allowing fear and insecurity to seep in around the edges.
I thought I was done with this. I thought that I had found freedom from all of my fears already. I can’t believe I’ve come full circle. I didn’t properly guard myself against relapse. All of these thoughts caved in on me as I realized how heavy and ingrained these burdens are. They have begun to grow and intertwine like vines to build up a protective layer, a shield, a wall of distance.
A constant unclenching of the fist. Really, isn’t that the essence of Lent? Isn’t it about giving up, about going without, about regaining focus and grasping meaning in the hollow space that has been channeled into your life? What will fill that gap? Will it be new truth, or a conviction, or simply some air for breathing room?
Maybe, instead of giving up coffee or committing to a different way of prayer for Lent, I need to wait and reflect and begin to loosen the knots that have blunted my spirit and my trust. This whole season must be a slow release, an uncurling of the fingers. It takes time to pull away the layers. The deepest lies are not easily redirected. The heart of a burden is buried deep.
Rather than letting go at the beginning, this Lent will be a journey of release.