If there is one thing that my life has taught me, it’s that there’s no stopping time from passing by. No matter how busy you get, how much traffic there is, how much work is to be done, nothing slows time down … not even our strongest wishes or our perception of the world around us.
The calendar moves on and we’ve reached that time of the year that makes me uncomfortable. Lent. 40 days of sacrifice. 40 days of praying. 40 days of “turning away from sin”. 40 days of preparing for the Resurrection.
The last few years I’ve had a lot of difficulty of finding a Lenten Promise. I’ve done the “easy ones” – pop, candy, chocolate, fast food, yada, yada, yada. I’ve done the tough ones – swearing, speeding, yada, going back to Sunday mass, yada, yada. I pick something and after about 5 days it begins to feel like I’m just going through the motions.
I’ve got to do something different this year, because between the apathy that I feel about Lent and because Lent has a tendency to remind me of how much I’m a failure at numerous things in my life, I really need a break from that.
Since last May or so, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been on a constant Lenten failure and it’s really driving me nuts. On social media and in public and at work I put on a decent front of being strong, but inside I feel bad.
That’s the word for it … I just feel bad. I’ve tried to come up with a word to describe how I feel inside. That’s the only one that comes to mind.
Prozac isn’t helping. I guess it balances out the depths of the bad feeling some, but it’s not taking it away. Talking to people/counselors/doctors isn’t helping. I just don’t know what else to do and as I struggle coming up with a Lenten promise, I keep beating myself up for failing at this. Thus begins the never ending spiral. The worse I feel, the more I put up a front and throw myself into work/politics/stuff. The more I throw myself into that the more I avoid finding a promise and the worse I feel.
A friend of mine suggested that I give up checking my phone while out with people for Lent. That would be a big one for me because I’m always posting something on Facebook/Twitter or checking my email. Always doing something to capture that moment’s thought (which may not be about the person I’m with or the conversation we’re having at the time). Something that keeps my thoughts from going to that dark place that consumes me. It’s not fair to others when I use that technique to put up my front and so I need to find “another” new different method.
Earlier today, I came across a blog from a former Jaycee colleague and friend that I’ve not heard from in some time. Carolyn, who is now a pastor in Benton Harbor, touched upon her “battle to rest.” She described how she struggles to let things go, to give them to God and to just be.
Now there’s a tough Lenten promise!
Shortly after reading her blog, my thoughts returned to something that hit me while I struggled through the last mile and a half of the Portage Winterblast Marathon on Sunday. I finished with a time of 3:03:47, 40 minutes off of what I did in the Grand Rapids half and I was in a lot of pain. I was actually tempted to quit at mile 12. The words of St. Paul went through my head and I said to myself, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Then I remembered that I still had over 5,265 feet to go before I could say I finished the race. … and I have most definitely not kept the faith, not like we’re supposed to.
Welcome back to my spiral. I’m never going to be good enough to make it to Heaven. I’m not worthy of God’s forgiveness. I’m not worthy of other people’s forgiveness or friendships.
I’m just not good enough.
Perhaps the solution for this Lent is to listen to the message in Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar acceptance speech.
Some folks found it to be a very egotistical speech since he said that he was his own hero. To that I say two things. One, it’s the Oscars … egos are all around. Second, he’s didn’t say he was his own hero. The chase is his hero … and he said he’s never going to win that chase.
The heart of his comments were to find those three things that push you. He said the three things he needs each day are: 1 – Something to look up to; 2 – Something to look forward to, and; 3 – Something to chase. And above those things, “to just keep livin’!”
There’s a good Lenten promise. Just keep livin’, especially when it seems impossible to do so.
Here’s the solution for me to try this year. This Lent I will look up to my children, to Alex and Cristiana, who have the biggest hearts and the brightest eyes around. I want to be like them.
This Lent I will look up to the good friends who show the world can be a better place. I will look up to Angela, to Carrie, to Carolyn, to Heather, to Jamie, to Casey, to Derek. I want to channel what they do.
This Lent my promise is to stop spiraling. I so look forward to being able to not get in my spiral.
This Lent is to stop beating up on myself. I look forward to being able to stop this.
This Lent is to stop wallowing in my pain, from whatever real or perceived source it comes from. I look forward to no longer being a victim to my own depression.
And this Lent is to find that rest that I my body and mind and soul need. Ironic that it is rest that I will be chasing this year … but I suppose it is much better to run a race to get rest than to run and run and run and to keep on running.
Cross your fingers, y’all. Light a candle. Say a prayer. I could use it to make this Lent be something good.