“What you’re after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.” (Psm. 51:6)
We are just a little way into Lent. I am surprised how quickly my resolve to live differently dissolves into my old and familiar patterns of living. Humph. I thought I was stronger, more capable than that. This is what makes Lent so valuable.
Lent is a time of looking honestly at our lives; a habit we might not practice otherwise. Who wants to search their hearts and notice their inner brokenness or admit these are the realities that still drive them? There are times, however, when there is no need to search. There are times my hidden brokenness unexpectedly gushes from my life. The “unfinished places of my soul” unpredictably trump all my well-intentions of keeping life in check.
The “unfinished places of my soul” unpredictably trump all my well-intentions of keeping life in check.
In those moments there is no denying there is much in me that still needs to die. I am shocked at how much self-protection, avoidance, denial, defensiveness, and the like, remain in me but are submerged in the daily trappings of life and ministry.
Although I shouldn’t be. I guess I am surprised by how prevalent they really are and how these realities still shape me. My first response is to beat myself up for not being more diligent or further along in my spiritual journey than I really am. My tendency toward perfection, however, doesn’t allow for self-empathy; to be kind to myself or to recognize perfection as an ugly, unrelenting, illusion.
Lent is not meant for self-condemnation. Lent is a way of keeping us honest with ourselves (because we are really good at self-deception) and before God…that we might reach out for grace. Lent reminds us that our struggles and weakness are the very things that allow us to experience grace. Lent invites is to look more carefully at all the ways the ongoing work of salvation comes to us in the daily-ness of our lives. Lent prepares our hearts for Easter.
Lent invites is to look more carefully at all the ways the ongoing work of salvation comes to us in the daily-ness of our lives.
So I have decided to press into the new life that is offered instead of my brokenness. I have decided to tell my story and not let shame rule the day. Every time I share my story, shame loses its grip on me. I have decided to let go of the lofty ideas of what my spiritual life should look like and be open to the resurrection that is happening in me. I probably won’t even do these things well. I am okay with that. Perhaps living with longing, brokenness, and redemption is what makes us most real.
Of course, the church has not always been a safe place for our brokenness to be seen. We are really committed to looking good. It is time to come clean. For too long we have lived as if we were the only ones or as if denying our brokenness somehow kept us “holy.” What we have denied is our shared humanness, the power of the Cross, the love of Christ, and the grace we so desperately need. Only then can our healing begin.
What sounds inviting about today’s passage?
What sound threatening?
What safe person can you share your story with this week?