What really matters. . .

Something happened 6 years ago that changed my life. The funny thing is, I didn’t realize that until just yesterday.

You’d think that you’d notice when your deepest motivations are profoundly and permanently changed, but apparently not. I guess game changing events can be pretty subtle–in some ways.

The event itself was anything but subtle. The closest area of civilization experienced a “hundred-year flood” (which are becoming increasingly common, now that they don’t believe in dredging the river and still haven’t caught on that means other real estate decisions will have to be made as a result).

I say “closest area of civilization” because it really didn’t effect us at all. Water rushed down our hills into the brook in the valley, who swelled over her banks quite impressively, but receded demurely in a few days. There were some wet basements here and there, but no real damage. We heard of all the “major flooding!!!1!” in the “city”, but it was about 40 minutes away. We went about our merry lives, feeling maybe slightly sobered by what “those people” had to “go through”, but pretty much figured they were “dealing with it.”

We were quite confused when we got a phone call about a month later. A friend of a friend of a friend said that they were still in major need of volunteers. Wha-? It’d been a whole month! Weren’t they done with that yet? I mean, c’mon–a whole month, and everything isn’t back in order yet? (Just a tad naive, yes?)

So we got together a rag-tag group and trundled out to good-naturedly offer our services. I was 19. It turned into one of the most grueling months of my existence–emotionally intense and physically exhausting. My 22 year old brother was ever oblivious to the fact he was leading a crew of women and children (yes, really!), and set what he considered a “steady working pace.” The group we were working through referred to us as “The Army”, so clearly they shared more my view of our pace.

I was so physically exhausted afterwards that my body had totally lost appetite; it took days for me to feel like eating again. And I was strangely overwhelmed by all that I had seen and heard and done. I wrote very long (very–trust me!) emails to friends trying to process it all, yet was still unable to understand why it had touched me so deeply. I wasn’t sorry I’d done it–I knew it had been very important work. But it was a one-off. A once-in-a-life-time (it was supposed to be a hundred-year flood, remember?). A good story to tell your great grandkids, but not really a substantial part of your life.

But I was alive, then. I remember standing by the trash heap of the most depressing job we’d ever worked on, watching someone in a hot-pink snug-shorts running out-fit jogging by, and the contrast was powerful. This–what I was doing, was real. This was what life was really like. That? That was fake. That was pretending everything was okay, and ignore what this world is really about.

And since then, I don’t think I have ever really stopped looking, in the deepest parts of me, to be in that spot. Not standing by the rubbish heap of a crazy-cat-lady house, soaked in sewage and river water and abandoned for a few months, although sometimes it looks like that, I guess. But at the spot of knowing that what I am doing really matters and is why I am here. It’s tantalizing–almost addicting–even though it is so incredibly draining.

And yet so fleeting.

Although the raw desire to reach your arms out to help those with overwhelming need and show them that they’re worth your effort and sacrifice is very real, it’s frighteningly easy to loose under those things called “the cares of this world.” Yet the further and further I get from the reality of saying “yes” to putting value on the health, food and shelter of others, the more and more unhappy I get–and the more obsessed with stupid things.

I know I’m not looking for an easy thing. I know how tired I was; I know how burning with that kind of passion can threaten to consume you, burn you out entirely. But the more times I taste from that cup and then slide back into first-world worries (grades! exercise! eat “right”! change oil in car! ), the more I find myself wondering if this first-world kind of life is really worth it for me to live.

I don’t want to look back on my life and say, “Man! I sure did an awesome job keeping up with my laundry!” I see the saving charts showing the power of compounded interest, and they make me feel guilty. . .but dead inside. I don’t want to save up piles of money; I don’t want my life to be defined by money any more than I want it to be defined by laundry. I don’t want to have the nice job, with the nice house and the nice car and the nice life. Nice is such a shallow adjective, with so little depth. I don’t want to look back on my life and say, “well, it was nice.”

I want to say, “it was gut-wrenching, incredible, awe-inspiring, exhausting, breath-taking, intense, and full of more love that I ever knew could exist.” Not “nice”. Yet I feel inexorably pulled into worrying about tuition debt and how to plan for my next car and good grades and a neat little “just-so” lifestyle–even though it’s against everything I want my life to be like.

How do I harness the passion that drives toward “nothing less than the best!” in my grades–a complete waste of my energy–into the things that really matter instead? How to I change the endless planning and scheming from “organizing my life” into making a real change in the lives of thousands?

I know it could be done. I know my life could be so much more than it is. I have tasted it. I know its burn, but I also know how much more deeply satisfying it is.

But I’m scared.

Part of it is the desire to be in control. If I don’t take care of tuition payments, who will? And the car, and the new computer when this dino dies, and keeping my body healthy and All Of The Just-So Things that I somehow think life cannot be lived without. And there’s the other thing. Without. I want that realness so bad I can almost taste it, but I’m scared of they very real sacrifices that come along with it.

How about never really having a home? A life of constant upheaval? When you give and you give and you give, and it’s never enough? Being alone, really alone? Loving, and not being loved in return? Health problems a suburbanite would never have (dengue fever, anyone?). Being in very real danger that you can’t even pretend to your loved ones at home that it’s okay. Being hungry and being cold and definitely not having 2-day shipping from Amazon.

I think about it a lot, in my waking hours and my almost-asleep hours, and I keep coming back to one thing.

I don’t want to do this alone.

I really, really don’t want to do this alone.

Even as I say it, I some how hear the resolve that if I have to do it alone, then I will. But I don’t want to, and now more than ever I want to bargain with God. I’ll go anywhere, I’ll do anything, I’ll drink the bitterness and cry Your tears–but don’t make me do this alone. I don’t have the right to make that bargain, even if I really did know what I was saying–and I know that I don’t. But I know I’m thinking it.

When I hear myself thinking about the Just-So life, I hear myself whispering over and over. . .”it isn’t enough, it isn’t enough.” But when I think of my impending departure to grad school, butterflies fill my stomach and my chest grows tight. I can’t do this–I can’t do even this. In our third year, we have the option of going to Bangladesh, and I want to go so bad–and I’m panicking at the thought of moving five hours away.

I’m not strong, God. I need someone to do it with.

When I think about “after”–“after grad school”–I can see that the “smart” thing to do would be to work at a stable job for several years, building up experience and bank account. I dread that idea almost more than I can say. No, I’m done with that. I’m done with reasonable and prudent and safe and just-so. I need to do real. Would I be ready? No. Heck, no. I’ll never be ready, and if I wait until I’m ready, I’ll be looking back on a life of laundry and bill-paying–a slow, painful death of Chinese drip-torture of slowly killing every dream and passion. I can’t live for Fridays. It’s too big of a waste for me to stomach.

I’m scared, but I’ll do it–help me God, I’ll do it. I don’t know the answers, I don’t know how–but I don’t want my life to be defined by turning away from what I knew to be right and true because I was afraid. Of all the reasons to fail at really living life–why fear of trying to do the very things you believe the most to matter?

But it doesn’t do away with the fear, or the silent sub-conscious bargaining with God. . .

. . .just don’t make me do this alone.

Advertisements

You. List.

You can find out some astonishing things about yourself if you’re just willing to write the first thing that pops in your head.

I have spiral bound notebook after spiral bound notebook devoted to this task. The hard part is being honest. I always have plenty to say, but there is so very often much of the time I want to gloss over things, want to not say what I’m really thinking, or am suddenly caught in the paralyzing fear of: “What Happens If Someone Reads This? OMG.”

Recently, for whatever reason, I have been stumbling over a bunch of “Simplify Your Life! Live Meaningfully!” blog posts. They always leave me feeling annoyed. I think it’s because they give off a “3 simple trick to lose-tummy fat!” vibe. “We sat down, drew up our list of priorities, and our life got so, so much better!! 🙂 🙂  ❤ ❤ ❤ !!!”

Am I being mean? Sorry. I’m not trying to be mean. It’s just that I have a really hard time believing you can just draw up a list and re-haul your life.

We had wave after wave of sickness come through the house, and although I was graciously spared the worst of it, my body has clearly been working overtime to fend it off–levels of exhaustion that are no where near commensurate to the amount of effort expended. I was finally reduced to the point where I was overwhelmed by everything–everything. And what did I do?

I drew up a list.

When I get that panicky feeling of drowning under way too many things, I’ve found that some of it is psychological. I am intimidated by that which is not quantified. A few detailed to-do lists later, I feel like I have a better grasp on reality, and after I see a whole slew of things crossed off, I begin to think there may be hope. Once the emotional pressure passes, I find I go on my merry list-less way.

I was struggling with the to-do’s, yes. But also struggling with the idea of pretty much starting my life over again in 3 months–a life which I know will tempt me to burn out, and phenomenon I have gotten to know very well over the past 4 years, and guess what? I’m tired of it. There has got to be a better way, and yet I feel powerless to change things.

So, yes.

A list.

Without even consciously meaning to, I grabbed a piece of paper and started writing down things that, in the state of drowning, seemed very important to me. This clarification is very important, because when one feels to be in a very good place, one becomes less and less serious and more and more philosophical. The list that I would write when I felt like I was on  top of the world is drastically different from the list I would write in crucible. The high-and-mighty list would have a lot more to do with theory, and things that I intellectually believe to be good and important things. The down-and-out list is raw and visceral–those things I know at a gut level that I may not always be aware of but are always influencing who I am.

You can see why the down-and-out list is much more useful than the high-and-mighty list. If I were to make a high-and-mighty list (okay, I have–multiple times; hence my annoyance with “make a list and fix your life posts”), it would be unattainable. It would be all good-intentions-paving-paths-to-places-you-don’t-really-want-to-go. Also importantly, it would not really tell me anything about myself, which is what the whole exercise is supposed to be about. It would be, as my self-writings are often tempted into being, and explanation of who I think I should want to be. Very pious and completely useless. (I meant that to refer to the list, but it occurs to me it could probably apply to the person I think I’m supposed to be, too.)

Do you know what surprised me the most? The thing that my pencil blurted out first, before any other thing.

“Cleaning.”

I was so shocked, I nearly wanted to erase it and start again. Cleaning is so totally not the most important thing.

Right then and there, I wanted to start re-arranging my list, changing the presentation of myself on paper instead of reflecting who I really was. In all reality, that one item has helped me more than any of the other things I wrote down (so if you do feel like playing along, you might only have to write down one thing!).

I grew up with more brothers than you can guess, and I have watched too many struggling young moms apologizing for their houses. I have seen people fall so victim to the urge to clean that they can’t even enjoy life. And so many things are more important than cleaning! I take as my stance that “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life.” I protest my list. I protest it mightily.

But here’s the thing: it’s my list. Mine. I want to clean. Me. And what has me been doing? Shoving it aside because it “doesn’t really matter” and “other things are more important” and making myself miserable.

I don’t want to clean because it’s the only socially responsible thing to do. I don’t want to clean because I “ought” to. I don’t want to clean because I think I’m morally obliged to or because I’m afraid of what other people will think. I want to clean because I like to have things cleaned, the way I like to bring in flowers in jars, the way I like to have plans of action, the way I like to have things right at my fingertips. I want to clean, because I find sweeping floors and washing dishes to be calming and peaceful and almost meditative. Your hands are busy and mind is free to go, and afterwards everything is better.

So, yeah. I bumped “cleaning” up several notches of importance on my to-do lists, and I have been feeling happier ever since (2 days. Don’t go crazy). That’s not the point. The point is, it’s my list.

Too often my lists are full of things I think I should do, things I feel obliged to do, things I think are “good ideas”, ideology I cling to even though it has little relevance to who I am, things that I have accepted I should value even though I really don’t. Too often, the to-do lists I’m following aren’t mine.

I thought about this more while I swept the floor this morning. My modus operandi has been to first cram in the dutiful responsibilities–work, school and the like–and then if there is anything leftover, I might have a chance to be me with that. But I’m thinking that what I’m supposed to do is be me first, and whatever is leftover from that I can expend on work and school.

No, this is not a bid for wanton living. It is a bid for realizing that this is my life, and taking responsibility for that fact. If life is living me, I’m not owning up to the one obligation I really have: to be me. Everything I do should be subservient to the truth of who I am, not assuming expectations of others or even just mindlessly accepting burdens.

If I stop and think about the people I’ve admired, they weren’t the dutiful ones. They were the crazy, fearless ones. The ones who didn’t exactly live to break the rules. . .more like lived however they wanted because they weren’t aware there were rules. The ones who didn’t seem bound by the “I should’s” and instead lived the “I am’s”. The ones who weren’t worried about having life “just-so” because they always knew they were just about ready to embark on a new adventure anyway. (Admit it–“If you were going to move to China tomorrow, what would I take with me?” is the best piece of de-cluttering advice you’ve seen all week!)

Life should be an adventure. . .but all too often I get hung up on how to do it right. Is there a “right” way to have an adventure? Apparently, in the world according to me, yes. But I think I’m confused on the meaning of life. No, silly-billy. I might not have the adventure I thought I set out to have, but I can’t not have an adventure. What I have to do is dare to value myself more than the things imposed on me.

My resolution heading into graduate school may very well be to only get a 3.5 GPA. I’ve done the 4.0 out of stubborn insistence for far longer than I should have, and you know what? It isn’t really worth it. I just felt like that if I had to do school, I ought to do a good job at it. Now I’m looking a little wider, and if I have to be me, I’d better do a good job at it. And if that means not doing homework because I’m making tin-can lanterns, maybe that is actually the more valuable choice. Because you know what? I’ve wanted to make tin-can lanterns for a long, long time.

What do you want to do?

Auto-HONY

“What was the saddest moment in your life?”

“Sad is a pretty flat word; grief is much deeper. When I knew my grandpa was going to die, I wondered what grief was going to feel like. Then he died, and I wondered why I didn’t feel grief. Then at his memorial service, one of my aunts and some of my cousins started singing, and I sobbed uncontrollably. It was very primal–bypassed any thought or emotion or higher function. It was very physical; I heard and I cried, and there was no more choice to one or the other. I still didn’t ‘feel’ grief, but as soon as a song started, the deep sobs would start all over again.

It’s been years. There are still songs that aren’t safe for me to listen to, and I still don’t know what grief feels like.”

Hear Yourself Speak

So I took this BuzzFeed quiz.

And now, like, half of you are dying to read the rest of this post, and the other half of you are so disgusted you don’t want to keep reading, because those BuzzFeed quizzes are so stupid. No, seriously, they are–there’s no validity (internal or external), no test-retest reliability, and no evidence that questions are applicable across a wide range of populations. Take me, for example: most of the times I don’t even recognize 80%  or more of the things they’re showing me, and I pick my answered based on, “green is  a pretty color” or “hey, I actually recognize that one!”

So, this BuzzFeed quiz. It is only an idiot who decides, on Valentine’s Day, to click on a quiz called “Why You Don’t Have a Date.” (It’s okay; you’re in good company. I clicked.) I was told that my problem was that I was untouchable, too good, and didn’t know how to have fun. I am sure you totally did not see that coming, after I threw around words like “validity (internal or external), no test-retest reliability” etc.

It was kind of devastating.

But not surprising. Because BuzzFeed quizzes have precisely one strength: they tell you what you told them. They tell you what you already think about yourself. I already knew how paralyzed I feel by being “not fun.” BuzzFeed, like a mirror, reflected it back to me.

You know, the bookish-nerd-girl is somehow making a “sexy” come back. Have you noticed? Store ads with these girls in sweater vests and button down shirts, and thick I-am-a-librarian-you-can-tell-because-I’m-wearing-these-glasses glasses? With the bright, perfectly applied lipstick and the really, really long eyelashes? That’s where it falls apart. Because I don’t apply lipstick perfectly and plump my eyelashes in my free time. In my free time, I email physics professors about earthquakes and read studies about Alzheimer’s. There’s not a lot of time left for pouty lips and fluffy lashes when you’re learning Geographical Fugues.

Maybe someone else out there does. Not me. Me? I’m smart enough to find school interesting. I’m excruciatingly awkward in social situations–self-conscious and rigid with the stress of being observed. I hate getting things wrong; if I didn’t do it perfectly, then I failed. I like to tutor people, because it’s fun sharing knowledge. I even have boring friends. No–really! They know they’re boring, and they like being boring. We do boring things together.

What’s wrong with being boring? What’s wrong with not knowing how to have fun? I’ve had a lot of people tell me I don’t know how to have fun. Do you realize how many social situations you obliterate by not liking to go out drinking? It’s like people don’t know how to relate to you if you don’t drink. What do you even do for fun? Well. . .I knit.

BuzzFeed’s response only hurt, because it only said what I already knew: I feel like nobody really wants to hang out with me and get to know me because I don’t know how to have fun. Like I would be more valued if only I could “figure out” this “fun” thing. Like I wouldn’t be overlooked, if I could just learn how to party.

It’s kind of weird, really; our current society seems (to me, anyway) so fixated on “having a good time” that it’s completely lost sight of so many different other things. 100 years ago–or just in a different culture–a young woman NOT wanting to go out and get raving drunk would be considered desirable. Now it’s just weird. It’s just weird that my skill-sets are all so domestic. I didn’t even try to be–I just liked those things. But I don’t think, anymore, around here, “domestic” is valued.

Am I blaming society for not valuing me? Not really; I’m blaming myself for valuing “society” as a whole over individuals–and my own core beliefs. I am sure there are individuals out there–guys out there–who bemoan the fact that young women nowadays are all flakey and flighty and you can’t actually have an interesting, in-depth conversation with anyone. Here I sit, and there they sit. Just because we don’t speak for “society” doesn’t make us any less real.

But in my desire to be accepted, I will stew in my “failure” to be “fun”. . .and disregard my steady companionship toward my friends, never evaporating when the rocky-roads hit. I will bemoan that no one will notice me, because I’m too boring, and ignore the fact that I am an incredibly strong, right-hand man–tell me what the goal is, and it WILL get done. I will coordinate, I will plan, I will put in the hours, I will keep all parties on track. I don’t know how to party, but I do know how to put mittens and boots on two-year-olds. I can’t drink, but I can cook or bake anything you could want to eat, from delicate flavors and presentation to man-hungry calories. I don’t watch shows or listen to cool music. . .I do struggle through making my own music, keeping my own ducks, and living my own life.

I KNOW I’m an interesting, caring, valuable individual. . .and I throw it all out the window, because I “don’t have a date on Valentine’s because I don’t know how to have fun.”

I am lonely. A self-love anthem doesn’t change that. Neither does accepting the vapid mores of a society that only likes the sexy nerds (all others need not apply). It’s just a different kind of lonely.

I used to get mad, back when people still dared to ask me if I was out to find a husband. Where, exactly, does one obtain said husband? Is there an aisle in the grocery store I missed? If you just want one, you just go pick one up–because they’re a dime a dozen, and all you need to do is get around to deciding it’s time?

Yeah, I’d like a husband! One who doesn’t look at me like I have six ears and two fingers, just because I don’t really drink. One who doesn’t make me feel stupid and small that I “don’t know how to have fun.” One who shares many of my values, not one that doesn’t understand why I’m so oddly different. Giving up on that, and just taking whoever the heck comes along, is no way to rid myself of loneliness. Then I’d be married and lonely, instead of single and lonely–and really? I think I would prefer single and lonely to married and lonely.

Do you know, there are some things we can’t change?

Actually, there are a whole heck of a lot of things we can’t change.

Then why do we feel such a compulsion to change them?

There is such an odd feeling inside of me when I ask myself, “But why are you embarrassed to be a lonely single?” Well–I don’t know. Aren’t I supposed to be embarrassed to be a lonely single? Goodness gracious, is “supposed to” my only rationale? It’s like saying, “because reasons.” How dumb. But people look at you really funny–heck, I give myself some strange looks–if you say, “I’m okay with my loneliness. I am enjoying the bittersweet nature of this time. I don’t have what I want, and yet what I do have is satisfying in it’s own way.”

The loneliness is still there. The ache and the hurt is still there. But why is that some embarrassing problem? From everything I have seen and heard, what I want–being married–doesn’t do away with aching and hurting. Just different kinds of aches and different kinds of hurts. So then couldn’t it be possible to hold to these things equally: to want, unequivocally, that which I do not have, and yet being perfectly okay with the hurt of the moment–unabashed and unashamed to hurt, but not driven into a frenzy to be free of it?

Are we afraid of the hurt? Is that why we hide from it?

Maybe I am. Maybe that’s why I cringe when I hear my own fears repeated back to me. “No one wants you; you aren’t fun.” But giving into the fear looks like trying to prove to the world that I am too fun! And I guess maybe staying the course and nursing your wounds must look something like what I’ve written here. The hurt remains, but I am still myself.

Healthy Anger

It is not pretty to be skinny, and it is not healthy to be skinny, and I Am Not Kidding.

This is not a politically correct, self-acceptance, let’s all-feel-good post. This is a post written out of raw anger and heartache.

You know what they say–it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Well, trying having a couple of friends with anorexia, and then see you feel about the whole adjective “skinny”. What I feel is potent fury and impotent ability to do anything about it.

Anorexia kills people. Anorexia devastates bodies, digesting one’s own bones in a desperate attempt to keep functioning, hidden damage that is so easy to be in denial about.

Do you know what “healthy” is? Do you even know? It’s 20% body fat. It is one-fifth of a woman’s body being pure, straight-up FAT. That’s healthy. That’s good and right and true and beautiful and attractive and comfortable and guilt-free and perfect and exactly where it needs to be and what it is supposed to be. That’s if you’re fit: that’s if you exercise regularly and take good care of your body.

And if you’re average? If you aren’t a fitness-freak? 25%. One quarter of your body should be fat.

We’re not talking about “ideas of beauty”. We’re talking about biological functions. We’re talking about a body being able to sustain itself. A woman is not “fat” if her body is composed of 1/4 of fat tissue: a woman is healthy and normal.

How many women do you know who believe that? How many women do you know believe that their bodies need to be between 1/5 and 1/4 fat? How many women do you know who understand that they aren’t healthy if they don’t have enough fat?

I am angry when I see pictures of desperately underweight women on Facebook, being sent around in “health memes”–it is dangerous misinformation, a public health hazard. To me, it is also now a very personal issue–I see these faulty “health” messages as full of malicious intent. I want to chase people down and hold them accountable for the lies they’re spreading. I want to pound some sense into people until they abandon this physiologically disastrous impression of body composition.

I want to fix it.

And I can’t.

I can just sit and watch while my friends literally starve themselves in the name of “health”.

Lenten thoughts

So I guess this Wednesday is “Ash Wednesday” and is the beginning of Lent. I’ve never observed Ash Wednesday or Lent, although part of me responds to the idea of having one’s daily structure influenced by observations of things other than “credit card due” or “laundry day.” We are physical people, and I think that we sometimes respond well to physical reminders.

But  I am finding my response to the idea of Lent is something along the lines of resentment, of missing the point.

I don’t think that’s really fair. I get the idea behind Lent–participate in sacrifice and taste and be reminded of what your Lord did on your behalf in His time on this earth. I get it.

But part of me wants to howl: don’t you make sacrifices every day? Don’t you, every day, do things you don’t want to do, and not do things you want to do?

They say we’re in a first world country, so of course we have more to sacrifice. I know that. As long as we’re alive, we have something to sacrifice. But I am the one who burns out with shocking regularity. I am the one who is always being told I need to learn how to rest, how to do nothing, how to take care of myself. I am the one saying yes to helping my aunt, yes to helping my grandparents, yes to helping my brothers and my sisters, yes to helping my friends, yes to helping random classmates. . .and no to myself. No to the little things that I just want to do, because other things are “more important”.

And now I should embark in exercise of doing more of that?

What about the inverse? What about consciously taking part in the plenty, realizing with joy that the result of His sacrifice is that we don’t bear that burden. That we have been so graciously removed from that which we could not carry that our only response can be to rejoice in our freedom. Why not consciously partake of small pleasures that we normally deprive ourselves, remembering that the results of Christ’s sacrifice is abundance toward us?

What if we ate chocolate every day as a reminder of His faithful and constant provision? What if we purchased laundry service for the season of Lent, remembering how He bore our burdens and removed the labor from us? What if Lent was a time of rejoicing in the recognition of the sacrifice on our behalf and the rest enacted by that? What if Lent was more like the Jubilee, more like the Passover?

I suppose some would say, “That’s what Easter is for. Lent is a time of carrying crosses.”

Maybe.

But somehow, deep inside of me, I remain unconvinced. Maybe all of the burdens and sacrifices–all of them!–are buried in Christ. That all that remains for us is choir of praise, for our burdens are light. Maybe we need to think about what Christ was thinking–not the depth of the sacrifice, but the depth of love and obedience. Maybe when it says, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,“it means that Christ Himself did not fixate upon what He was losing, what He was giving up–but what He was gaining, and what joy He would be taking part in.

I guess I don’t understand this idea of self-inflicted sacrifice. Jesus followed the will of His father into many things–indeed, many things that we describe as sacrifice–it was just that: service to His father. Not self-inflicted deprivation. In fact, the pattern that I see Jesus leaving behind was one of feasting and enjoying Himself when everyone thought He ought be somber and reflective and stringent and practical and prudent and circumspect and observant.

In fact, you know what? I have very nearly talked myself into buying a big bag of dark chocolate and observing the season of Lent by delighting in all the things He has made possible–by His creation and by His sacrifice. And maybe taking a nice, long hot bath every week in commemoration of of how His labor means my rest, and that He delights to see me acknowledge His provision.

If you find it draws you closer to God to observe Lent in the traditional manner, by all means, do not let me stop you. We must all be faithful to what we have heard. But as you traverse the Web this week, with it’s many Ash Wednesday/Lenten posts–consider. With this joy set before us, how shall we imitate the Christ, the Anointed One of God?