Getting Up Gracefully

It’s Lent- the Christian season of preparation before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The idea is that we will spend more time thinking about Jesus Christ and less about the world and ourselves.
I found this great poster awhile back:
Texture from Mayang's Textures
All of this looked great on paper, so I decided that this would be my goal this Lent- to live by these “rules.”
Day 1: I got up. Got angry at myself for sleeping late, worried about the oil leak in my car, tried to do too many things, lingered on some stuff someone said to me, complained to a friend about it, took a handful of Advil instead of taking a walk for a headache, went to church- decided it was ok to start over.
Day 2: I got up. (so far, so good) Stumbled over big dog laying in the hallway and said an especially colorful word, dropped the shampoo bottle on my foot in the shower and repeated the colorful word, was cranky with a family member who didn’t have time to help me do something, ate two biscuits at dinner when one would have been enough, stayed up too late watching the “idiot box.” Finally went to bed, determined to start over in the morning.
Day 3: I got up. Spent a little time asking for help from “the One Who is Not Me” (thanks Anne Lamott!), smiled at the youngest who was preparing for a great day at school, was running late but tried not to yell at other drivers, and here I am talking with you. So far, so good, but then it’s only 8:18 in the morning. Still plenty of time to mess things up.

Here is what I know- you and I are an unfinished canvas, a work in progress. Our lives are an uncharted course, where we get to choose the direction to go. A friend said to me that he doesn’t believe in a myth (Christianity) that has started so many wars and done terrible things in the name of religion. Here is what a favorite author of mine says: “Think of people you consider fanatical. They’re overbearing, self-righteous, opinionated, insensitive, and harsh. Why? It’s not because they are too Christian but because they are not Christian enough. They are fanatically zealous and courageous, but they are not fanatically humble, sensitive, loving, empathetic, forgiving, or understanding—as Christ was.” Tim Keller, The Reason for God.
So- we keep trying, we ask for help, we let ourselves be open to hear feedback from friends and family. We try to recognize grace when we see it, and when we try it on for ourselves. Tomorrow I will get up in the morning (God willing) and start over.
No matter how badly I mess up today I am given the grace to begin again- as are you.
You are a beloved child of God.
We’ll talk again soon,
Gayle

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