For many years I did daily journaling and I’ve stopped. It makes me feel so schizophrenic. Which, of course, is how David also looks when we read of him in scripture. Praising God one minute and then asking God vehemently why he has hidden his face from him. That’s me as well. So journaling during this season of lent has left me feeling that again. I’m just not sure it’s completely healthy.
Anyways, here are a few of my schizo journals from the past few weeks:
Day 8: It’s really bothering me when people call ‘not accomplishing what you set out to accomplish’ cheating. Like there is some kind of righteous olympics going on and the one who gave up the most, competing in the most events, (no caffeine, no refined sugar, no internet access AND 3 hour prayer walks daily. Take that!) is the winner in the end. But there’s no winner in a spiritual practice. Because it’s a practice. A discipline. It’s not a contest. So if it’s not a sport and it’s not a contest and there aren’t rules exactly how is it cheating? Sure, if I go order a quad-americano with room for cream right now it would hinder what I’m setting out to do. But it’s not cheating. And why should you state that it is? Do you feel better if you’ve accomplished the entire 40 days with nary a slip up? Does it make you feel better to point out that I haven’t? Day 2 I caved on the self-discipline but I felt the circumstances presented this as the better option. I’m feeling a bit like when Jesus was being pestered about healing on the Sabbath. Is it right? How is that okay? Well, because it is. That’s why. So I drank a Chai. It was a gift. It was the right thing to do. This is heart stuff not rule stuff. m’kay?
Day 9: I sounded grouchy yesterday. I wasn’t. Just feeling, I don’t know, okay maybe I was grouchy. Thankfully today is a new day!
Water is my new groove. Thank you Jesus! Somehow in the past few days I went from feeling deprived to feeling the love. Do you guys know just how fantastic water is? How about hot water? So. good.
What I’m learning about myself in the season of denying is that I’m adaptable. When I set out my original list of all the things I would not be partaking of in the form of drink and that I would only be indulging in water I thought it was a huge sacrifice. 2 days in, 5 days in, it felt like a huge sacrifice. Today as I study the atonement, what Christ did for us on the cross, it seems like it’s not even a sacrifice.
I know that beverage is trivial but it seems like a big deal starting out. A week later? No big deal.
I fear this isn’t what Jesus experienced though. A 40 day fast is something quite different and I’m sure that a week in he was feeling that it was an extreme sacrifice, whereas I’ve simply adapted. The cool thing this has shown me is that all the things that I daily think I need (coffee, warm shower, blow dryer, lip gloss, rain jacket, vehicle, clean house, dishwasher, etc) are all really trivial in the grand scheme. I’m quite certain I could do without all of them. It just means you do things a little differently. You change. You adapt. But you’re no less living!
Day 20: This is the half way point. I thought I’d be crying out Hallellujah’s at this point but i’m not. I’m fine. For some reason I think Lent isn’t working for me. I have absolutely no problem giving up what I’ve given up. Sure, the first days were hard but now its just normal. I’m not craving coffee or hot chocolate or smoothies. I’m just not.
What IS hard for me is finding joy here. My problem has always been that I’m a rule follower. I like to know what I’m suppose to do, how to do it and I’ll be 10 minutes early. If there were a list of do’s and dont’s in the journey of a christian I would have that checklist up on a chalk board and check my standing each day. That’s easy for me.
What’s hard for me is knowing there is freedom here. That our salvation is unmerited and our sins have been paid for in full. That today, right here and right now, God can not love me one ounce more or one ounce less. He loves me. Completely. Wholly. I am His and that is that. Man, there is freedom in that. And joy! Knowing that I am accepted as I am, without doing this or doing that, that I am chosen, beloved, accepted, adopted. Ah! Makes me want to sing!
So this whole Lent thing has somehow just pushed me back into my rule following ways. I can do this. Check mark in box. Done. Accomplished. But it’s so hard to accept that it’s not doing anything ANYTHING to gain greater standing with Christ. Because that part is done, finished, complete. I struggle with the freedom part. I struggle with feeling loved always and exactly how I am. I struggle with falling into following rules and so Lent is hard. I have to fight the rule following nature of it. I do.
Day 21: I might quit. Not because I want a cup of coffee that badly. In fact, I don’t. But because there is now no condemnation in Christ for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. So why am I practicing rules when He came that we might be free?