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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
- Emotions: I’ll spare you the gory details of this one.
- 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.