The Beginning Of The End Of The Beginning

2 Mar

 

I had high expectations for this Lent, my final Lent before full communion. I expected to be in some state of perpetual happiness, floating around on a spiritual high and speaking words of wisdom (let it be. . .) to strangers and woodland creatures who stopped for random chats about faith and theology in coffee shops and tea houses.

The reality?

Flash to me kneeling in the church on Sunday morning, pulling my chapel veil just a tiny bit further forward to hide the fact that I’m sobbing. The ugly cry. Most cries from me are ugly anyway, but Sunday’s display of emotions was particularly unattractive and volatile. Instinctively, I knew that this time in my life was going to be really, really difficult. But I kept pushing that aside.

“I’ve got this. I’m strong. I’m in control.”

Except I’m not.

I’m working overtime, I have a completely full academic load, I’m trying to maintain the peace at home concerning my conversion, I’m making graduation plans, I’m starting to fill out graduate school applications, I’m attempting to maintain a balance between spending time with my awesome boyfriend, spending time with my (sadly neglected) friends, and making time for myself to sit and just be. But on top of that, God just had to reach into the very core of my being and bring all the ugliness, all the hurts, the rejections, the bad choices, the horrible self-image, the pride, and lay it out on my table. Not to condemn me. But so I can make the choice to either keep my paltry offering in my greedy hands or to clear the table off. I feel like Eustace from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I have scales to be scrubbed away, and it hurts. Like bloody hell.

But I didn’t want to fall too far down that abyss – I am the world’s worst when it comes to self condemnation. But I felt like God was telling me that he didn’t want me to concentrate so hard on the worst of me that I forget about preparing my best for him. There is a time and a place for penance every day of our lives. And particularly in Lent. But in my prayers, I knew that I needed to be healthy. I know that there is a huge work of restoration in me. I know that there are broken, dirty, ugly baseboards in my heart that need to be cleaned. And I know that only God can do it.

“Let it go. You’re not proving anything to Me. I’m in control.”

So this Lent? I’m going to be balanced. I’ve picked a project or two for each part of me – my intellect, my body, my emotions, and my spirit.

  1. For my intellect: One thing I lack in this area is discipline. I’m not ignorant. I’m actually quite bright – as long as numbers aren’t involved, anyway. I’m easily bored in classes, though, and busy work irritates me. If I can’t have discipline as an undergraduate, how am I going to accomplish anything else? So, I’m disciplining myself to get my papers turned in on time or earlier. I’m also not letting myself skip a single class. Also, being a student in a non-creative field and working as a dance teacher has stifled a lot of my creativity. So I’m going to do just one thing – one little thing – creative a week. Maybe a craft, maybe a few paragraphs of fiction, maybe a photograph. But I know that God created me with a creative mind and I need to stop letting it waste away.
  2. For my body: I actually can’t blame ballet for my horrible body image. I was blessed to have wonderfully supportive teachers and parents. I had nary an image issue until I LEFT dance. But I know hating myself is basically telling God he didn’t do a good enough job. Which is actually, you know, not something I want to do. So, with that being said, I’m not going vegetarian this Lent. Maybe next Lent. I want my focus to be on accepting who God made me to be, and starting to live a healthier lifestyle, NOT “How much weight am I losing?”. Also, as crazy as my life is right now, it would be incredibly difficult to get in all the nutrients I need. And as a dear, sweet friend pointed out last night in one of the most reassuring phone calls (ever), I need all the mental efficiency I can get right now. So I’m working through a book that will help me create my own nutritional plan. It also deals with the cognitive behavioral side of self image, which is right up my alley, because I love psychology.

    Also, I threw out my flat-iron and curling iron. I’m not against curly girls like me straightening their hair, or anything like that. But this is truly a sacrifice for me. I reread a book my mom gave me in Jr. High called Curly Girl, and I will be me, myself, and I for all 40 days. Even Spring Break, and my 21st birthday, and my Baptism, where my hair will be wet. In public.

    I’m still wearing makeup. Sorry

  3. Emotions: I’ll spare you the gory details of this one.
  4. Spirit: I’m doing the Friday Stations of the Cross, and will be going to Adoration as much as possible. I will be doing some specific devotions for various things going on in my life, and the lives of my friends. But ultimately, my focus for my spirit is relinquishing up the last bits of my life that I’m desperately trying to backseat drive with God. Which is kind of like trying to backseat drive with my mom. Unpleasant.

 

My prayer this Lent. . .

Is that I will make habits of balance, and recognize that every part of my life belongs to God, and I should treat it as such. He doesn’t suddenly stop being God when I have homework to do and cuss myself out in the mirror for not matching some image I have in my mind of what I should look like.

Here’s to Easter Vigil.

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11 Responses to “The Beginning Of The End Of The Beginning”

  1. Julie @ The Corner With A View March 2, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    I am the same way intellectually– interested in all, so very scattered at times! Deadlines should be your best friend.

    Good luck in this final leap towards Rome! We’re all praying for you. 🙂

  2. convertingheart March 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your heart with us! I am sure that this is going to be an amazing Lent for you as you enter the final stretch of your wait to enter the Church. Lent hasn’t even started and I’m already excited to read your “after” post. :o)

    You will be in my prayers throughout!

  3. Elizabeth March 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

    This was really beautiful to read. You’re so right, He just lays it all out there for you.

    “A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.” – Psalm 51:12

    I am especially praying for you and the “keeping the peace” endeavor at home regarding your conversion. I know that must be excruciating, but God seems to be blessing your with Grace and courage.

  4. Calah March 2, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    I love your list. Very thoughtful and healthy. And yay for curly hair! I’m so jealous of curly hair. I think that’s really a great idea.

    I’m glad you’re not giving up meat. 🙂 Many, many prayers for you, Kassie! I can’t wait till Easter for you!!!

  5. Blueberries For Me March 3, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    I think it’s a good idea to realize that if giving up meat will lead to the temptation of dieting, then it’s best not to do it. It’s like the food offered to idols thing. I know a lot of people use Lent as a diet, and it’s not good for our spiritual lives!

    Would your family consider going to a Stations of the Cross with you? They are basically a meditation on scripture. It might be sort of foreign to a Protestant, but since its basically reading the Bible, they might be interested?

    • ehillgrove March 3, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Oooooo great idea with the Stations of the Cross!

  6. Kathleen March 3, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    It’s got to be difficult to have family conflict over something so personal. I will pray for you. This is a big undertaking for this Lent, on top of everything else. Be careful. Don’t burn yourself out trying to make it perfect, either. School and transition period is tough all on its own.

    This probably has nothing to do with you, but it came to mind so I’ll share it just in case. The worst time I remember in my life overlapped with Lent. I’d just broken up with my fiance and I was shattered. Up was down, down up, all that. I realized that Lent that I didn’t need to be giving anything up; I was already walking through the desert.

    Hugs.

    • Blueberries For Me March 4, 2011 at 12:10 am #

      Ooh I totally agree. The point of giving something up is to bring us closer to God through fasting rather than feasting. But sometimes we’re starving anyway.

  7. priest's wife March 3, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    don’t worry too much about making this the perfect Lent- too much pressure- I’m praying for you!

  8. khouria jen March 4, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    the point of lent is not to be perfect but to be mindful. find something that helps you do THAT. God doesn’t want your perfection — He wants your heart.

  9. Eli March 6, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    I have no words. I am so proud of you, and that’s really all I can say.

    You’re a strong woman, and an amazing friend, and I cherish you. You’re the best.

    You have all my prayers and support this Lenten season, and may God bring us both into full Communion, in grace, and with Love.

    You inspire me daily, and I am grateful for the things that God is working out in you.

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