Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lent and Seeds and Ropes

Last Wednesday was the first day of Lent. And I really wanted to feel something. To find myself moved deeply by the pull to the cross, the reminder of our dust-ness. I hoped perhaps the right words or music might remind me of the places I’ve been, and also where I’m going. That maybe anticipating the cross would move my heart to the right place.

But what could I even give up for Lent? It’s not like I’m drinking coffee or diet coke or alcohol. And my stomach refuses to indulge in chocolate, or cheese dip, or any food at all really. I’ll wake up early, I thought, give up sleeping in while Adam wrestles the children into school clothes, packs their lunches, and herds them out the door. But on the second day of Lent, I roll back over, squeeze my eyes shut tight, and slip back to sleep.
I’m mostly tired. Possibly not just physically (because of all-the-sleeping-in). I’m tired of laundry and dishes and bickering children. Of to-do lists that dont get done, things that slip through the cracks. I’m tired of politics and facebook and pettiness and reading books I dont like. I’m tired of boys getting arrested and girls getting pregnant. Something about sharing due dates with neighborhood girls makes me somehow feel, not the impossibility of their young-ness, but more my own advanced age: no wonder I’m so tired.

Weariness seeps in all the cracks and I fall asleep at 7:35pm, as Caden grabs my hand and requests I lay beside him. Light from the hallway spills through the cracked door and I can hear the music Ashton plays loud through his headphones pulsing too. My eyes flutter closed and Caden cups his hands around my cheeks. Mommy pray? he asks. I murmur words about the cold and our warmth, of gratitude for our family, and hopes for the boys. We both lay in the quiet and I try to remember how He can hear even the heart behind my words. The deep-buried dreams, the things I hope for, but fear might never come to pass.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

But I am weary, my heart responds to His word. And I don't even know what I’m trying to reap at this point. The line marches past us to the streets, crowding the prisons and free clinics. If even he cannot escape I whisper with tears slipping down my cheeks, then what are we doing here?

I don't know a lot about sowing and reaping. Farming and tilling swells beyond the scope of my knowledge. I look at our garden, dormant and gray with winter, and my heart feels the same way. I am reminded of Adam telling me he gardens because it reminds him to plant seeds and then wait for God to make it grow. Meanwhile, he faithfully waters and weeds. He tills and kneels in the dirt every day. He protects delicate seedlings from the chickens and overzealous children alike. It all helps him understand that he is an active participant in the process, but he cannot ultimately force a seed to grow.

Jayci knocks gently on the door, and I start awake before tiptoeing out of Caden’s room to continue my bedtime rounds. Jayci plays with my hair and rubs my back, and she says her own bedtime prayers. I admit defeat, climbing into my own bed as the clock barely slips past 9pm. I lay quiet with my eyes shut, strangely unable to get comfortable because my new tiny bump makes sleeping on my stomach impossible.

I set my alarm to wake up early, so I can spend time with Jesus and make good on my Lent promises. I snuggle under the covers, and hear a whisper to my heart: at the end of your rope, what are you clinging to that is not Me? I open my eyes and switch on the light, pulling out my notebook to jot down the question. I dont actually know, I think, even as I feel my fingers clenched tight around things I hope might help: my own abilities, Adam, routines, right answers?

I shut my notebook and turn off the light, and I still dont have any answers. But I do know I want to spend this season answering the question whispered in my heart. To pry fingers and fists open from all the things they grip, until I find myself holding onto only the One who holds it all.

Those of us who wish to draw near to God should not be surprised when our vision goes cloudy for this is a sure sign that we are approaching the opaque splendor of God. – Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark


  1. Thankful for this post. I know that weariness, and I know that voice. I'll be thinking about that question this Lent too- thank you for sharing it.

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  3. This is just beauty and truth and sorrow. I know all of it, and I'm thankful for you.

  4. Hi becca, I've been following along for a while now. Just wanted to (finally) say hi and thank you for sharing this question. The way you write about God's steady faithfulness in your life opens my eyes wide to what He's doing in mine.

    1. Aw thanks Kara - and thanks for saying hi :-) Praying He will continue to show Himself to you this Lent!


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