Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Lent Taught Me Over Easter Vacation

I openly blubber around Lent. I don't just blubber about anything, I get highly emotional when it comes to the suffering Jesus endured and chose to endure in order to save us all.

I think Lent is one of the few, if not the only, time where it is "acceptable" for me to feel like I can blubber at church. It seems appropriate at funerals, but I've found that when I get choked up at Lent mid-week services, especially Good Friday's service, I don't find myself trying to swallow the tears. I let them fall. I don't seem to be...ashamed.

So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God."
~ 2 Timothy 1:8

In fact, as Holy Week begins, I find myself reflecting more and more on the sacrifice Jesus made to save us sinners. Today, two days before Maundy Thursday, the evening Jesus and disciples shared the Last Supper, I feel my grief increasing and my heartache swelling. And before our family goes to the Good Friday service, I'm going to tell our children that I will be openly crying and to not be afraid or worry about me. They know me as highly emotional anyway, but I am going to say that I am not ashamed of the passion and sadness I feel over what Christ has done for us.

Your stepmama is gonna sob, kids. That's just the truth.

And yet..things happen in life, tragedies strike, and I scurry to a private room to shed tears. Someone hurts my heart and I swallow the pain until I can release it in the car on the way to work. Always private, always alone. Why the shame?

It is unfathomable to imagine what agony Christ suffered for us all - we who are foolish, prideful, selfish, and ungrateful. For me, Lent is a time to reflect on Christ's journey to the cross and to witness His hunched-over, burdened walk to Calvary.

But it's easy to get caught up in the horror of what happened. I find myself wanting to fall to my knees in agony and just stay there, devastated, begging His forgiveness. But Lent is about more than falling down and remaining prostrate out of guilt. It has to be.

So perhaps Lent can teach us about Life.

Perhaps Lent allows us to boldly grieve and then experience the Truth that followed the Tragedy

which is the Resurrection.

Following the horrible, beautiful Good Friday (and then the waiting-in-the-middle-Saturday) came Easter Sunday, the day of resurrection, new life, our salvation, His grace. And in Life, perhaps we are to boldly claim our emotions...

yet know that there, too, can be a resurrection.

Amdist the sadness of  Lent there is Easter, so in Life and Life's own pain, there, too, is, redemption, resurrection, new life, salvation, and grace. So what if Lent, besides asking us to remember Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, is a call to be brave about our human feelings?

It takes courage to feel the hard stuff. I teach my kids that all the time. I'm working on that, in particular, with my middle stepchild now. Just because it's hard doesn't mean it's bad or that you ought to give up. It will grow and mold you into someone better.

Lent teaches me to boldly feel my pain, not be ashamed, and to carry that out in my daily life. To not hide behind a mask of Okayness and Holding It Together for the sake of looks. There is a time and a place for everything, When I think how Lent teaches us to hope in the face of death, I think God teaches us to hope amidst the pain of Life - and that hope is in Jesus.

So whether you are a blubberer like me or whether you prefer to observe and reflect in a more subtle way (either is fine), there is grace and healing for you.

All the joy and happiness found in Jesus' resurrection can be found by those who believe Jesus can resurrect them as well.

Resurrection requires a death. In our case, it is a death to the self and a surrendering to God.

We can have Easter every day.

"But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ."
~ Romans 3:21-24 (The Message)

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