Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Broken Prayer - The Lessons of Lent

 
Every. Day.
 
Well Lent is over.

My second year.

46 days.

6 of those considered #lentfreedays (though I technically only used three of them).

40+ days of no carbs (no bread, no pasta, no alcohol*, no fried foods).

I did it.

With joy. Okay...more joy than last year. I claim that as a triumph. ;)

What did I learn?

Did I learn anything?

I did.

Allow me to share.

LOL

Lets start with the easy physical lessons...

I learned my body operates better without carbs.

*Deep Sigh*

Within two days, and I so wish I were exaggerating, my energy level increased...and by increased I mean skyrocketed. Noticeably. I was shocked. Literally.

Also, my #lentfreedays (which for those who don't know anything about Lent - me two years ago - are the days you can have whatever you gave up - Sundays) took me out. I was lethargic and FULL and by full I mean FULL as in stuffed and maybe a bellyache (depending).

I also realized that I order like a robot at restaurants...barely skimming the menu and ordering the same thing every single time. I know this because I eat out a lot because I am have a lot of business meals and I am single....so imagine me at 44 reading full menus for maybe the first time ever. I also want to state that I know where the best salmon salads are across Central Arkansas (ask me) and there are a few restaurants that will remain nameless (Outback) that basically don't have a carb-free offering and when you "create" one they have no idea what to do with the order so they throw something together and you end up snacking later. *Insert Eye Roll*

I don't really miss carbs. I mean there were days and meals that I had a "wanting" look in my eyes, but for the most part this was easy. Now I handled brunch on Sundays Like. A. Boss. but....what can I say...brunch is my absolute favorite meal.

So....after the physical lessons, about midway through Lent, I made a decision to remain carb-free post Lent except for the weekends (giving myself two days a week) to see how I felt, etc. I am pretty excited about it. I love how I feel - I need the extra energy - and I have plenty of doctors giving me the look - so the health benefits of this are a big plus.

Now lets talk about the spiritual lessons...

I started counseling in the middle of Lent.

Okay, I am done.

Just. Kidding.

Kinda.

I started counseling. It is kicking my butt and breaking my heart.

After counseling last week, I came across this...

Hosea 2:14-15The Message (MSG)

To Start All Over Again

14-15 “And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
    I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
    where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
    I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
    those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.

It gave me hope. Hopeful for the resurrection the upcoming Sunday (last Sunday was Easter).....Hopeful for counseling...Hopeful for this latest wilderness season. I felt a prayer rise up within me, "Jesus come and restore my heart to that beginning, when I was young, fresh out of the clutches of evil, before/fresh from the womb, innocent, young, and at peace." Isn't that beautiful?

A broken prayer.

I just realized that was what that was...a broken prayer. A broken prayer to Jesus.

Isn't that the purpose of Lent...to remind us that we are broken...that Jesus was broken for us...that we have the hope in Jesus to be made whole...We. Have. The. HOPE.

This world doesn't feel very hopeful right now. It feels hard, broken, harsh, dangerous, and dark. I am a born optimist and I struggle to find hope on some days.

So here we are in this messy, broken world...marinating in our own personal brokenness...and it can be hard to find HOPE in all of that....but here is Jesus. Steady, stable, and offering love...offering life. I think the truth of the matter is that for a long, long time I didn't know what to do with that...Honestly. It was simply too lavish an offer for a girl like me. So here I am this year hopeful that maybe 2016 is the year I "get it" when I can finally understand the gift I was given oh so long ago. There is healing on the other side of this counseling, so deep and real to me that I can nearly touch and taste it. I feel God all over me in this...like he has me in a bubble. There is no doubt he is protecting my heart. A heart that is being SHATTERED by what I am learning...recognizing...owning for the first time.

This year I focused on being joyful in the sacrifice of giving up the comforts of foods I love (OH SO MUCH), and what I learned about myself is that I not only don't need those foods...my body doesn't really want those foods (at least not at the quantity I previously consumed them). While I was focused on all of that, Jesus was preparing my heart for the tsunami of counseling. Imagine a talkaholic and wordsmith sitting across from a stranger grasping for words. It feels like open heart surgery. The pain comes in waves too. I am wanting to explain, but I am sitting here with no words. I imagine the longer I go, the easier it will be to find the words. I hope.

Lent is over but the lessons continue.

I am reminded once again at the beauty in the sacrifice.

I entered Lent beaten down and feeling under attack - on all levels and from all directions.

I exited Lent on the wings of hope. Renewed. Reminded. Reverent of a Jesus who died, fought, and then rose again...for me. for you.

I offer up to Jesus, every day, my broken prayer. To give him my heart. To lay down at his feet again all that I was never meant to bear/carry/control. To pick up his gifts of grace, mercy, and LIFE. To walk away from my own tomb and carry the message of a love so deep and true that it can even set this captive free.

That is what I am holding onto...restoration. Not for a season. For eternity.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)