Black and white, silent, empty. Elements like these alone might not so quickly capture my attention if I were not so quick to look for them. Like the ketchup bottle still on the counter, the open cupboard door, the myriad of stocking caps flung far and wide throughout our home that aren’t routinely placed back in their bin, or any one of the signs of disorderly and reduced life, this vessel with its dirty rim frays the slim nerve that remains.
Clenched jaw, balled fists, and a resigned sigh indicates my posture. Physically perfect invitations for the tormenting mental and emotional loop to begin. The frustrated, negative, martyred track begins its play and a quest for “responses” or “strategies” resumes.
I realize it’s just one item; a small thing really, requiring almost no real estate and in a way, it’s symmetrical high contrast pattern adds to the collected lived in charm of the room. But, in my spirit it’s just one of an infinite number of items and actions that have worn me down.
Irritated and put out, my emotions and self-talk pick up steam and my thoughts are righteous, justified, and condemning. Because not only has it been decades of this careless behavior of one thing adding to the sum of a myriad of things, it's grown markedly worse in recent months.
Significant trauma with its unanticipated and uninvited habit crashed into our lives and it targeted my beloved, sought to crush him, reduced him to unrecognizable lows, and left him (us) barely alive with a fragment of a marriage, devastated finances, and chronic symptoms that make costly and regular withdrawals from “for better or worse”.
So this small inanimate ceramic token, benignly left in an irregular spot before the dawn broke, served as a weary marker of all the “strategies” the day will need to include. I know it’s just a cup. But, I also know that it’s a contextual foreshadowing of the fractured days we now live.
In my mind, these words appearing multiple times in the Holy Scriptures, are my only hope for today; for every day. So, I repent.
Today I begin a 40-day journey of repentance and emptying of self.
God doesn’t need my observance of Lent to work Easter in my life, but I need it to take me from my “buts”; all the things that should be different, the patterns that need change, the grim hardness of my heart that all too frequently marks my days and harms my neighbor and my own soul.
Forty days of practice, feeble attempts, and frail resolve to rotate my inward looking eyeballs (which the world and my pride tell me are perfectly reasonable given the hand I’ve been given), and instead look to Jesus, who makes all things new.
There’s no possible way that I’ll accomplish this.
Broken easily, beset with failures, a long history of guilty mug shots, and deeply wounded I cannot fathom that my resolve to, instead of flaring with irritation for every violation of our agreed upon roles, strategies, and commitments, give myself over to prayer will hold.
I confess, the irritation preceded the praying. My flesh had the first say on the day.
But God, my Father, in His deep love for me, intervened. Holy Spirit counsel drew my attention, pricked my heart, and enabled me to pray.
But God, instead of giving me over to my natural self, gave me a greater portion of Himself.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t a hyper spiritual event filled with sudden transformative cinema worthy change. But it was the quiet and proper outcome of my scripture reading earlier.
“Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15b
Father, I repent. Hardheartedness, despair, weariness, lack of belief.
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
Is it any wonder that I struggled with the technical details of getting this post up? Goodness- it's been better than 2 years!
These two years have been filled with hardship, illness, derailing life events, and all the difficulties of unimaginable circumstances. Wave after wave crashing on the shoreline of our lives.
If you're reading here, thank you. You are so welcome.
These posts, for however long they last, are part of my Lenten journey. I'm joining my online friend Edie who wrote a rich devotional series for this season, and rather than giving something up, I'm trying to discipline myself to practice the things that most consistently draw me to Christ.
Scripture, intentional study, and writing do just this.
I'm so lucky to have a "real life friend" to keep me accountable and check in on me.
Would you like a friend too? If you'd like, feel free to comment here, come back and read again, and we can check in on each other while we journey to the cross, and then, the miracle of the eternal risen Christ!