Trouble is the common denominator of living. It is the great equalizer. ~Soren.Kierkegaard~
We are now about 11 days into the Lenten season, and I have already made mincemeat of both my Lenten sacrifices.
IS MINCEMEAT A SWEET? MMMMM.
I have been attentive to my Lenten study, therefore, I deem myself to have only partially failed in my endeavors. Lord, I’m still hanging in there with You even if I’ve tossed several dozen Whoppers down my gullet and have proven myself to be a complete flop in my mission to digitally detox.
SHAMEFUL HOW I CAN JUSTIFY JUST ABOUT ANYTHING, ISN’T IT?
So. Every year, a month before the season begins, I scour the Internet for study guide recommendations. I find some studies more relevant than others, and over the years, I’ve deduced that the guide I ultimately choose is directly linked to the current condition of my life. If life is being agreeable and there are no stones in my shoes, I want to hear about Jesus.
LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU.
This particular Lenten season, life is giving me a few fits.
OKAY. LET’S TALK ABOUT ME.
The first week in this years study guide reminds us that the Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness for forty days. For a very valid reason. Jesus needed to be alone to reflect, to pray, to fast and … in my own Personal Opinion because I do not declare myself to be a Biblical scholar … to shall we say, get His head around what’s going to happen next.
In like fashion, the study guide suggests that we need to slip into our own particular wilderness to more fully understand ourselves and where we are relationally with God.
TO GET REAL WITH LIFE.
To begin, we are to make a list of Wilderness Things. Situations that are stressing us. It asks us to recall, in The Big Picture, what illicits unspeakable fear. What keeps us awake nights. And then. THEN. It asks us to not do anything with them.
NOT JUST YET.
We are not to attempt to puzzle out a resolution. We are just ask to sit in the wilderness with these Scary Things.
UMMM. LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU, LORD.
For inasmuch as I love to ruminate on things, I cojitate with the
Intent to Put Into Proper Order.
I DO NOT WANT TO SIT AND DRINK COFFEE WITH SCARY THINGS.
To be quite candid, it took me several days before I got past the Huge Knot of Dread in the Middle of My Chest to start writing. I found myself unwilling … and sometimes completely unable … to give a name to the frightening things in my life. Giving them a name acknowledges their reality. So. In a manner of avoidance, my list began with shrimpy troubles.
Does the fact my steering wheel emotes a little squeak when I turn right merely
mean the van is getting older, or does it foretell a Large Repair Bill to come?
Why is the actual usage on my electric bill far more than what my budget permits?
When are they going to nail me for the difference?
By the time I filled up the first page of my journal with relatively safe drivel and flipped to stare at the next blank page, I could physically feel a flood of anxiety. If I was going to get Real With Life and effectively complete this exercise, I had to Name the Biggest Beasts.
AND THEY SHALL HEREFORTH NOT BE CALLED PENELOPE OR SALLY.
I began to write …
Stupid things my children will do that could mess up their lives
Becoming a burden to my children in old age
Who will love me for me
blah blah blah …
Ohmyyes. I named the Bathing Suit Beast. I called her Paininmyrear. Because in a less than two months I am going to warm and sunny Charleston and the last bathing suit I adored was over 25 years ago. It was a purple and white ha-cha-cha bikini that so flattered the lovely caramel brown tan that I’d aquired that summer.
I’M SORRY. I DIGRESS.
When I was done with my exhaustive list of Wilderness Things, I didn’t feel any sense of peace. I felt unnerved. Uncomfortable. Vulnerable and shaken. And even though I was only instructed to write them down, acknowledge them, and leave them alone for the time being, I couldn’t.
WHICH KNOWING LISA THE WAY I KNOW LISA, DIDN’T SHOCK ME IN THE LEAST.
Now. Because I am who I am, I had to gather my beastly list together and figure out the common thread. I was astonished when I realized it wasn’t necessarily the specific worries that were troublesome. But that each of these things collectively represented to me things over which I couldn’t exert much, if any, influence to change them.
THEY WERE ALL THINGS OVER WHICH I LACKED CONTROL.
Logically, I know the answer is to trust that things will progress as they should according to a Bigger Plan. The History of My Life has, time and time again, proven out this fact of faith.
But. The beasts continue to lurk in the wilderness.
I REALLY NEED TO STOP FEEDING THEM.