Feb 282013
 

This lent–and probably this whole life–I am

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trying to become more like Seth.

To rest in my humanity, and in my limitations… To rest in the love and grace of God…

This kind of humility leads to great freedom. And it also involves suffering—the death of that idealized version of myself that can go faster, farther, better, and deeper.

I decided to give up alcohol for lent this year, which basically means forgoing my nightly 5 o’clock glass of wine.

So I guess I’m giving up my idealized version of myself with her exacting standards… as well as the glass of wine I feel like I need after keeping pace with her all day!

It’s been hard! I’m facing the raw realities of little ol’ me, and a fair amount of restlessness as a result.

I can see now that my ‘over-functioning self’ and my ‘evening glass of wine’

are two strategies I have routinely employed to avoid suffering.

“There is no other way to life and to true inward peace than the way and discipline of the cross. Go where

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you will, seek what you want, you will not find a higher way, a safer way than the way of the cross. Arrange and order everything to suit your desires and you will still have to bear some kind of suffering, willingly or unwillingly….There is no escaping the cross. Either you will experience physical hardship or tribulation of spirit in your soul. At times you will be forsaken by God, at times troubled by those about you and, what is worse, you will often grow weary of yourself.”

~Thomas a Kempis

Lent is a time to face suffering…like Jesus, who “set his face toward Jerusalem,” toward the cross.

And we walk the road of lent with the resurrection in view. We can face the death of our false selves and the death of our coping mechanisms…even in our restlessness we can face the suffering that accompanies this journey because it does not define us.

Thomas Merton writes, “It is of the very essence of Christianity to face suffering and death not because they are good, not because they have meaning, but because the resurrection of Jesus has robbed them of their meaning.”

There is no escaping the cross. And our attempts to do so make matters worse.

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So lent is the time to look death and suffering in the eye (in whatever forms they come to us). It is not a time to bear our burdens bitterly, but to practice making light of them. It is a season for learning to face and make faces at suffering, because it’s got nothin’ on us.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And

Apply happy have. Kiddo

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that is what we are. ~1 John 3:1

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Jan 172013
 

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let downthe nets for

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a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such

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a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

“ ~ Luke 5:4-6

This scripture kept me company 5 years ago when we were considering the purchase of our first house—an old farmhouse in Oregon I had been dreaming of for 4 years. Despite the seeming impossibilities, I felt a strong challenge to believe that God would give it to us. Something this abundant required more faith than I’d ever had to muster before.

It is a vulnerable thing to open ourselves and wait, nets hanging there, for the thing we really want. Letting down our nets requires letting down our guard.

This is especially true when we’ve been working the same stretch of water for a while. At the time we bought the house, I sensed I would need this kind of vulnerable and tenacious faith not just for the move, but for the next season of life.

Fifteen years into marriage and ten years into parenting, sometimes it’s hard to keep expecting a fresh experience of the goodness of God. In addition to my own challenges, I have been buffeted recently by waves of pain in other people’s lives—broken relationships, mental illness, substance abuse, cancer. This stage of life feels like deep water, and it’s no quick easy jaunt to the shore. The stakes are high and evil is real. Sometimes we are sputtering and taking in too much water. Other times we are treading water in the dark…weary, not sure

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what we can count on.

Sometimes when we aren’t experiencing the “catch of fish” we hope for with our kids or our spouse or other situations, it’s tempting to get anxious and controlling—we rev our motors and push for what we think needs to happen.

Or we can have the opposite response: life wears us down and we are tempted to settle for what we can see—we drift to a place of resignation.

But faith, faith is the narrow way between prideful pushing and resentful resignation.

In the deep water, where we feel disoriented and vulnerable, God doesn’t ask us to motor or to drift.

He asks us to let down our nets.

I have candles on the windowsill above my kitchen sink, and sometimes when I don’t really have words anymore for a worn-out issue, I light a candle. I let my prayer just burn there for a bit while I do dishes or other chores. I hold out to God whatever the tangle is, along with my own heart in its vulnerability. Lately I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what comes of it…

What are some worn out issues in your life? How could you tread the vulnerable path of faith?

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Nov 232012
 

“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” – Viktor E. Frankle, Man’s Search for Meaning

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