I wasn’t going to put up a blog post today. Fact is, I’ve been feeling pretty ambivalent about keeping this blog going at all. I vacillate between “It’s not worth the energy; no one reads it” and “It’s so important; this is what I’m passionate about.” I am alternately discouraged that I don’t have the stats to rival my favorite bloggers and discouraged with myself for not producing whatever would earn me those stats. “I am tired; I am weak; I am worn. Take my hand, precious Lord.”
So yeah, I wasn’t going to post today. I was feeling whiny and small and overlooked. I was feeling voiceless. I was giving up.
But this morning I woke up at the crack of dawn. Which I hate and never do because morning people are all terrible, chipper, and HAPPY in the morning. I cannot relate.
But this morning I woke up anyway, before the sun was up, before my husband was up, and by 6am I had tossed and turned myself right out of bed, into my clothes, and across the street to the misty, deserted salt marsh.
The marine layer was so low I couldn’t even see the tips of the mountains to my left or the horizon between the cloud cover and the Pacific Ocean on my right. Everything was quiet, except for that man talking loudly on his phone as I passed his window. (Who makes calls at 6am? Morning people!)
I walked slowly, not quite contemplatively, through the sage along the gravel path and wound my way across the estuary. I stopped on the bridge and watched the ducks and leopard sharks swim in wide circles and figure 8s. I breathed deeply. I looked up at the misty morning, still dark enough that my sensitive eyes could take everything in through their own lenses and not the dark ones I carry with me everywhere. I continued on.
I turned on my iPod and played a guided Lectio Divina reading I downloaded from my new friend Christianne Squires’ Cup of Sunday Quiet. (I highly recommend it, by the way!) I walked slowly through the salt marsh, noticed my breathing, and listened to a gospel reading in Christianne’s measured voice. I walked. I breathed. I listened.
And then God showed up.
I don’t know why I am always surprised when God does that. But I am, every single time. Maybe it’s because at the bottom of everything, at the very root of the deepest lies that cause the woundedness in my life, I don’t believe God is trustworthy. Still. Even after all the healing, all the truth, all the trust God and I have built up in our relationship over the years. Even after the dark night of the soul and the wilderness experience and all the ways God has tried to mature my faith, even now I am still surprised when God shows up.
I expect it more often. I trust that despite my lack of faith it will happen. But I’m still surprised.
Or maybe it’s more that God just enjoys surprising me. Maybe it’s that God delights in delighting me. Maybe it’s like God is playing hide-and-seek with the child in myself.
Me: God, where are you? I’m looking for you.
God: Here I am! You found me!
And you know what? I just couldn’t wait to get back home and put up this blog post. Because really and truly, my lovely readers, know this: God delights in delighting you, too. God enjoys surprising us. God, with infinite wisdom and gentle grace, continues to show up for each of us, every time. All we have to do is get quiet, get listening.
All we have to do is show up, too.
My friend Jenn Cannon has graciously agreed to share her experience of fasting during this Lenten season and its impact on her body theology. If you missed it, check out Part 1. You can find more of her writing here.
Many people, in modern Christianity, have taken the idea of a fast during Lent and tried to turn it into a positive action. Instead of simply abstaining from certain foods, people are opting to try another way to express the same idea without the physical side-effects. As an example: my former pastor gives up his morning Starbucks and all fast food and then donates the funds that he has saved to his favorite charity.
As I have journeyed to get healthier in the last 8 months, I have found that I cannot outright deny myself a certain food without the danger of a binge looming on the horizon. If I tell myself I cannot have chocolate for 40 days (or 46 depending on how you count it), I will most certainly have a meltdown and gorge at the end when I finally allow myself the chocolate – or I will be frantically trying to find something else to fill that need.
Either way – I lose sight of the meaning of the fast, and also do myself more harm than good. Many people who are journeying back to health will tell you the same horror stories – fasting from any certain thing is a recipe for a binge.
So I have learned to eat things in moderation. Great. But then what am I supposed to do about Lent? If I want to participate in the spiritual journey of preparing myself for the coming sacrifice of Christ, what then can I do instead of giving up meat (which I already eat very little of) or chocolate (again, a minor part of my diet and not really a sacrifice) or anything similar?
I am fasting from laziness. Fasting from sitting on my butt. My Lenten practice, this year, is to commit to some form of intentional exercise for at least 30 minutes every day. I am choosing to observe Sundays as the mini-Easter that they are, and so are not part of the fast.
So – that is my physical piece. But, as a Lenten practice, it is fruitless and self-serving unless I add in the other aspects of prayer and service. So, my prayer (or God-focus) part of Lent is to read Scripture more regularly, pray while I’m on the treadmill, and change the music I listen to to help keep my thoughts centered on God while I’m walking. As for service, I am always looking for the people who cross my path that I believe God sent to me. Also, my discipline for service will take the form of writing.
Writing as Spiritual Discipline
I have a lot going on in my head as I journey back to health – and with nudging from good friends (like Laura) – am realizing I have much to say and share as I do. So I will be writing – intentionally – during the full season of Lent.
My writing is intended to help others understand this journey of getting healthy, encourage those who are struggling with their own health, and – selfishly – to help me process some of the stuff I need to think about – specifically regarding my self-image.
Join the Conversation
So have you thought about what you’re giving up for Lent? Do you have a reason for your choice? And how does your personal choice (Self-focus) tie back in to the other two aspects of Fasting: God-focus and Others-focus? Leave a comment in the box below to share your journey this Lenten season.
I am a musician, a photographer, a theologian, a customer service rep. I am a wife, a stepmom, a sister, a daughter, an aunt. But mostly I am a child of God striving to live my crazy life the best way I know how. These writings have been born from my journey back to health that I started in June 2011. At that time, I weighed over 300 pounds and needed to lose at least half my weight to be considered in a healthy range. Since then, I’ve lost almost 50 pounds through adjusting my diet and adding exercise. The surprising side effect is the emotional changes that go along with getting healthy – and that is what has prompted me to begin to write.