I thought it only fitting to post this on Ash Wednesday–the day that marks the beginning of our 40-day season of giving things over, of surrendering, of letting ourselves be emptied so we may be filled.
I am realizing that I have inadvertently let my life be characterized by disappointment: I begin things, only to have them go in a different direction than I had originally hoped or planned for, and so I leave them where they are. I tell you this almost as a confession, not so that you would absolve me, but so that it would be my first step towards recognizing and correcting. And I also know that I am not alone in this practice; we have been raised in a culture that says it’s okay to leave things half-finished, to end relationships instead of working on them, to give up instead of asking for help.
All that to say, my last post was about 10 months ago, and in it I wrote of transition and how I felt as though I needed to be somewhere that I wasn’t. Did I end up somewhere that I’m supposed to be? That remains to be fully seen, I think, and so I have spent the last year struggling with that question.
But back to Ash Wednesday. In January, or maybe earlier, I realized that there was some part of me that was already looking forward to Lent–the name given to the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Easter. This is, as some of you may know, an odd thing to be ready for. It’s a season of mourning, for one, and is the time when Jesus followers remember, among other things, the sacrifices made for us on the cross (though, really, we should always be remembering that).
As I thought about it more though, and as people began confirming that my overwhelming sense of anticipation for it was strange, I realized I had felt the same way about Advent–another season of waiting–and Passover–more waiting. So I took a step back and looked at my life, in an attempt to figure out what I was supposed to be gleaning from all of these realizations. And…ready for this? The last few years of my life have been about waiting for something, whether it’s a new job or relationship or housing situation or conversation or any number of other things.
During those times, I chose anxiety and fear as my companions, rather than trusting in Jesus to walk through it with me. I allowed disappointment to rule me, because it was easier than admitting that I needed to work on something.
While I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fullness of this lesson, I know that the Lord is building in me a posture of joy and peace in waiting. As you may know, changing a way of thinking can be incredibly painful. And I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that it has been. I also think that there is something to be said to all of us about waiting, and about what exactly we do with it when it seems like it’s going to stretch on forever. I don’t actually know what that something is as of now, though, so I’m going to continue to wrestle with that.