The past two years, I have observed Lent with hesitancy and then joy. This year, I find myself back to that point of apprehension. Do I really want to do this? But then the better question is–what am I doing, in the first place? I have wondered about this for several months now, maybe even since sometime last semester. The truth is, I have become more and more aware of the ways in which I have been wounded by the Church, and I’ve distanced myself. Judge me if you will; I will not suffer panic attacks and PTSD symptoms just to keep up appearances and stay in your good graces.
I have never arbitrarily chosen what I gave up during Lent; it was always the Spirit who led me. This year, I feel like I haven’t received my “instructions” yet. Some might argue that I am at fault for distancing myself from the congregated body of believers. My response is only the 400 years between the Old Testament and the New, as well as countless other times in history. Sometimes, God is silent. We must still turn our hearts to Him, and listen.
In the effort to be still and know, my practice for this Lenten season is to be one of daily prayer an weekly scripture memorization. The first time I went to the housegroup I was placed in at my church, I was considerably intimidated by the prospect of having to interact with other people and fell upon an old habit–pouring over the bookcases. I saw a book entitled “Celtic Daily Prayer”, and, intrigued, flipped through several pages. Over the next few months, finding the prayer of the day in this book became something I looked forward to each week. I received my own copy of it for Christmas in 2013, and it is this that will guide my prayers and scripture readings over the next 40 days.
I will not pretend to be on perfect terms with the Church or with all believers of faith. I consider myself to be a bit of an outlaw, a sort of professor of unorthodox truth. I have elsewhere said: I’m not sorry for everything I’ve been through, I’m not sorry for how I’ve learned to survive, and I’m not sorry that my journey of faith makes you squirm. This still stands. I have been more than singed, I have been burned–sometimes by the most well-meaning hands. That is not where my focus lies, however.
There is ash all around us, ash that is our our own and ashes from those generations before us, collateral damage from what we’ve done and said. Will the fires of our hatred and bitterness consume us, or will we taste the ashes of our sins now and be purified through Christ our Savior? I ask you: Dear Christian, do you want to be right, or do you want to be faithful?