It's the last week of Lent (technically, the last day of Lent), and I think I'm finally starting to get it.
This year, instead of my usual chocolate or coffee 'sacrifice,' I decided to give up a bad character habit: generally being a 'hot mess.' Vague, I know, but for me it meant being tidier (picking up clothes, not leaving dishes in the sink, etc.) and also being more emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually cool and collected. I attempted the latter by adding a daily Ignatian prayer study, keeping my appointments and to-do's neatly organized and updated, and laying out my outfits for work the night before.
The first two weeks of Lent were delightful. I felt put together, organized, and enthusiastic. I was feeling good, and goodness started pouring into my life. I started getting new custom work requests, I was enjoying my spiritual centered-ness, I started a business course and a fitness course. I was on my way to being the radiant child of God that I was created to be. Yahtzee!!
Well I'm not really sure what happened, exactly, but my enthusiasm swiftly turned into what I call 'The Overwhelm'.
The Overwhelm is a term that I hear a lot in the business course I'm taking, so I know it's a thing that most people struggle with in one way or another. In my experience, The Overwhelm is when mind and heart are full of a frenzy of thoughts, ideas and emotions. It's like a swirling cloud of should's, could's, would's and wants. It's not a happy place to be. It's confusing and exhausting. It sort of feels productive, but then, not really.
I spent close to TWO WEEKS in that state of overwhelm. That's crazy talk. I mean, I wasn't sad or anything and life was still moving along, but, I wasn't feeling fulfilled or completely joyful.
But now it's Holy Week, the last week of Lent, and I think I understand where I went wrong this Lenten season, and where I've gone wrong many many times before.
I think what happens is that when I commune with God,
I sometimes revert back to my five year old self.
Okay, picture this: God and I are just doing some grocery shopping at Target. Normal, right? So we're just hanging out. I'm telling Him about my day, my dreams, my hopes, my desires...normal Target talk...and He's giving me advice and paying me compliments and telling me to get my s*** together (I'm not 5-yr-old Tara yet), and so on. And then He does the sweetest thing...He gives me a gift! He buys me a throw pillow (one of those Threshold Collection pillows with the amazing ikat pattern...you know the one). And I LOVE IT. I'm so excited, so happy, so ecstatic that I grab the pillow and run away with it.
I run away. Not in a mean way, not in a scared way. No, in an excited way. In the same way any five year old kid would if she got a special treat from her parents. She just can't wait to play with it.
In the same way, when God gives me this (metaphorical) throw pillow (a.k.a. any opportunity, gift, talent, whatever), I squeal with delight and then run away with it. I run from aisle to aisle looking for other things to complement it. Other things - a matching throw, a bedazzled mirror, the cutest little salt and pepper shakers - to fill my home with that will look just fabulous with it.
I completely forget about God, standing back there in the pillow aisle waiting for me to say, "Thank you."
So there I am, gathering items for my dream home, and I realize I forgot to say thank you, but by now I've got my arms piled so high with adorable home accessories that I can't even see Him. I don't even know where He is. Frankly I don't know where I am. I've been so caught up in dreams of my mountain-flanked window-filled cabin/studio, that it takes a minute for me to realize that actually I'm still just in Target. And Jesus is my ride home, and Oh. Crap. I'm. Lost.
Enter five-year-old me again. Now I'm panicked. I'm confused by the things in my arms. I don't like them. I only like the pillow. Jesus gave me the pillow. Gosh he's nice. I need to find Him. Where could he be?!
So I leave the things, but cling to the pillow. I'm spinning around, trying to spot Him, and Oh! There He is! Of course, the pillow aisle. I should have known... and He's looking right at me. It's like He knew where I was this whole time...
So I run to Him, and I tell Him how sorry I am. He knows. And how much I love that pillow He gave me. He knows. And how I can't wait to find the perfect place for it. He knows. And how many ideas I have to add to its beauty with a matching throw, a bedazzled mirror, and the cutest little salt and pepper shakers. He knows. And also how much I love Him. He knows.
He says He loves me too.
God is like that. He knows us. He knows what delights our hearts and he adores our excitement. Every single day, He showers us with gifts to delight and surprise us. He'll gladly look after us if we choose to run and play, but what he loves more is to share in that joy, to be the reason for our excitement, to be right next to us as we decide which throw will be the perfect complement to that glorious pillow he gave us.
So what I think I often do wrong is just forget that God is so generous. He's given me everything, and He wants to be by my side as I take those gifts and glorify Him through them.
I'm starting to get it: Lent isn't about the stuff we gave up (or failed to give up). It's about what Christ constantly gives to us, and what he gave up for us. Starting now, and definitely next year, I'm going to keep that at the forefront of my mind.
How are observing the Lenten season?
What struggles have you encountered?
And how are you looking forward to celebrating Easter?!
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment below!