Someone I know once said that people should be careful what they wish for when they pray for faith. Sometimes, God just gives them faith. Sometimes, He sends challenges to help them develop their faith muscles. Sometimes, He puts them in situations to show them just how much faith they already have. In short, at least two out of three of those options tend to be uncomfortable.
Last Lent, I felt like I was on a pretty good path of spiritual development. I felt like I had been spending years lazily luxuriating in a big, soft Catholic feather bed. I had been comfortable for a long time, but had not really done anything to grow or focus my faith. When I retired, I began investing more time and energy into spiritual development. I was participating in a program called “Best Lent Ever” and it kind of was. Every day, the administrators of the program sent me an email with a video message, Scripture readings, reflection questions, and suggested activities. I opened my heart and my mind. I felt like I was learning a lot. I journaled about the program’s reflections every day. Sometimes, I even posted comments on the program’s discussion boards. In short, I felt like I really took last Lent as an opportunity to deepen my commitment and understanding.
This Lent, not so much. The church I have been attending has offered Lenten activities, but I haven’t been able to summon the energy to attend. I started going to Sunday school a few months ago, but have missed several sessions lately. I even missed the service a few weeks ago when I messed up on the whole “springing ahead” thing. In general, I feel like I’ve just kept stumbling over my feet this Lent without making any spiritual progress.
Some of you might point out that my stumbling has not been confined to spiritual progress. You would be correct. Since my mother’s stroke and the ensuing chaos in my external and internal life, I’ve been fairly lacking in competency in any arena. I sort of stumble through everything now. And maybe that is really more in keeping with the spirit of Lent than my activities with the “Best Lent Ever” program.
I think maybe God puts us in whatever desert He thinks we need for Lent. Last year, I was just starting to re-examine the depth and maturity of my faith. Maybe God wanted to tempt me to continue by providing me exactly what makes me comfortable- orderly growth and tidy spiritual development.
But no one gets to Easter without going through Calvary. This Lent, I think perhaps God is using the sad path I am navigating to grow and develop my spirituality. It isn’t orderly or tidy. It is certainly not comfortable. But it seems to be my Calvary. I try to accept His will and offer up my pain for love.
I’m not equating my struggles in any way with those of Jesus at the Crucifixion. In fact, I am clear on the fact that no one will ever have to endure the complete pain and emptiness that Jesus experienced on His Calvary, simply because He did experience it. He endured it exactly so we would never have to. And, truly, the challenges I’m experiencing are nothing when compared to those that many other people battle. Still, I don’t think God minds too much when I complain and cry over my difficulties…. Especially when it is to Him I cry.
This Easter, I will rise above my difficulties and celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection. I will try to rejoice that, just as I share Calvary in my very small, weak way, I will one day also share in the Resurrection.
Have you done anything special to prepare for Easter this year? How has it been working for you? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at email@example.com.
Have a blessed Easter!