Lent in everyday language. Day (WHAT???) Thirty-nine.

Let’s pretend for a moment that I have been writing meaningful posts everyday for the entire Lenten season. Today I would be on the eve of my last post since tomorrow is day 40 and then we being Holy Week. Wow. That would have been something to write home about.

So where have I noticed God most?Where am I having a hard time noticing God?

I can say this. Being mindful of the days proceeding Holy Week was something that I have always intended to do but have not typically done very well. Over the last @40 days-ish, I have absolutely seen a difference in the ways in which I notice God in everyday happenings. I am expectant. I’ve watched people for signs of the God-life in them, I’ve listened for stories that scream out “GOD IS HERE” and I’ve sat more and rested in the presence of the One who is constantly asking me to be still and simply KNOW that He is God. I’ve listened to my children and their lovely view of the world and their place in it. I have enjoyed my husband and enjoyed being a bigger part of our shared dream to feed people.  I have been overwhelmed by ordinary graces of new and not so new friends who make time for me in their compacted and crazy lives.  In all of this, I see the power of God still working to break through this chaotic world and remind of us the peaceful way we were designed to live.

But I have also missed God. I have missed God in a culture where materialism and want want have have spend spend have want are constant companion in our would-be contented existence. I have missed God in the stories of girls in 13 different foster homes before the age of 11 and girls who have seen one parent shoot the other right in front of them. I have missed God in marriages of people who should have joy and peace and trust and mutual respect for each other but it eludes them like trying to hold onto slippery soap in the bathtub. I have missed God in the movies our co-dependent culture rushes to see by the millions, movies that are violent and sexy and trendy and somehow “important”. I have missed God in the places where prayers are no longer prayed with true faith. Places like church, where I believe that once there were people following Christ who really believed that their Father God would answer every.single.prayer. I miss God in the places where I feel most tired.. where I spin endless plates that other people toss at me instead of trusting that God may be calling me to something simpler, with less plates to juggle.

Looking back over the last 40 days, how did you notice God differently? How are you still needing to see or hear or experience more of God in your everyday language?

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7 thoughts on “Lent in everyday language. Day (WHAT???) Thirty-nine.

  1. Some really good questions and thoughts here. You’re almost making me want to go back and redo Lent. Perhaps I’ll just add some things into ordinary time.

    I am a little perplexed about what you wrote about missing God. Are you saying you missed God in those circumstances because you weren’t attentive or distracted, because you avoided such circumstances, because God wasn’t in them, or something else that I’m misunderstanding? What made you miss God in such places?
    And what are you feeling about yourself, about God, and about the circumstances? (It’s hard to tell from just text.)

    Blessings in your patient, everyday walk toward being formed by Him.

    • Matthew

      Thank you so much for taking some time to thoughtfully respond to my post. I have been taking time to practice the examen and I think of it as “finding God in everyday life”. SO when I don’t “find” God, I liken it to missing God. It’s just my simple way of describing desolation, especially as it turns my negative feelings and despairing emotions about the world back into myself where I can tend to get a wee bit disoriented and tired. Is that more clear?

      And when I am “missing God”… it can be for all of the reasons you mentioned. The simplistic answer of course is that I don’t trust the sovereign will of God when it comes to pain and suffering. And when I feel like I can’t trust God, then I know it comes from being inattentive to God and to the very nature of our human condition. (and then I usually grab one of my Nouwen books and I get some solace).

      Lately, especially with the help of the daily examen, I find myself being drawn into the pain of others as opposed to avoiding it and thereby avoiding my own discomfort. So that is some movement towards wholeness, I suppose. It still takes me awhile to find God in the center of all the pain and fragmentation.

      Okay… that’s not entirely true either. I find God in life’s fragmentation like I find sunlight when it rips through stained glass window pictures. I do. I see God’s light eeking through in places where life has been re-pieced together beautifully in the broken glass of our lives. I do.

      Thank you for a bit of spiritual direction here. And for enduring this rather lengthy reply to comment!

      Shalom
      Amy P

      And if I may ask, what in particular made you want to jump back and redo your Lenten journey? What is your practice during Lent?

      • Amy,

        It sounds like pain is a difficult place for you, though it also sounds like perhaps God is inviting you to find His presence even there, unpleasant as that may be. I appreciate that you notice the link between seeing other’s pain and how it evokes your own discomfort. There’s always that temptation to either fix or run away in the name of the other person while really what we end up running away from is ourselves. Heaven knows I spend enough time running away from myself!

        My Lenten practice has been simply praying the hours (despite the potentially more down-to-earth thoughts I posted and you commented on), though I have found that, frankly, I’m pretty lousy at it. Still, to steal from Chesterton, anything worth doing is worth doing badly!

        Perhaps as I look back now, I realize that part of what I was trying to do was connect with God more fluidly, less gaps of recognizing His presence and getting mired in my narrow, little tunnel-vision. Your discipline of seeking where you’ve noticed Him felt inspiring to me, and I thought, “Hey! I should have done that, too!” though I suspect now that that was a bit of me trying to work out my own salvation, for it is me that works in me both to me and me me me me. Ah, spiritual discipline; what wonderful ways to draw near to God and also to attempt to wrest control from His hands so that you can get what you want instead of trusting Him to give you His gifts in His time. We can distort most anything, can’t we? Thankfully, He’s patient and keeps working on us in spite of our best efforts. He’s good that way.

        Matthew

      • I am the prototype of the 7 on the enneagram. Idealist and avoid-er of pain. Prone to fits of spiritual pride and persuading people to join whatever idealistic bandwagon I am currently riding. Pain is not really my thing. I have physically moved out of towns and schools to avoid painful relationships.

        That being said, I am not an automaton with no potential for change. Several years ago I started to walk through some pretty dark places with people I loved, places like divorce after long marriages, life threatening disease, death, adultery and restoration, adultery and divorce, and estrangement from family. I had no earthly idea how to handle the compounding pain. So I asked a spiritual director/friend of mine how I could possibly be of any use to these precious people in my life. His answer?

        A ministry of presence.

        Being present with people is something I can do really well. I don’t care more about any task more than people. I have very little sense of time (as alluded to in early posts- Day 13). I have the ability to simply be with people and enjoy them.

        But to be with people in pain, to be with the pain of humankind, to be with the unending grief of losing a friend early in life to cancer… these were new terrains for me to simply sit and rest awhile. ( like you said, this working out life on our own terms is generally about me helping others in a way I feel best suited to serve. me me me me me).

        Simply put (after all this preface), I learned to let myself be myself. I let myself cry. I let myself not have something perfect to say. I let myself let people down when I wasn’t 100% available on the phone. I made some big mistakes. I listened more and waited for invitations. I read Scriptures in the psalms that cried out without end. I read Nouwen (of course).

        One friend even said to me that I didn’t let her stay in her own grief, that I was trying to move her too quickly forward. So I slowed down my own agenda and waited with her in her place of desolation and disorientation. I am finally letting people have their own path, with is essentially me letting God be God on God’s terms (loosely from Mullholland in
        Shaped by the Word:The Power of Scripture in Spiritual Formation):

        The expectation of instant gratification in our culture is a by-product of our grasping, controlling, manipulative way of living. It is feedback we require to affirm for ourselves that we are effective persons. If what we do doesn’t provide such gratification, it might mean we are not capable, effective controllers of what is “out there.” We have extreme difficulty in abiding, in waiting patiently, trustingly, perseveringly to be shaped by God according to God’s agenda.

        Trusting that the patient word and words of God will comfort us all in the deepest places of our humanity.
        Amy

  2. Beautiful thoughts here, my friend.

    It doesn’t matter to me that you didn’t post faithfully every single day of the Lenten season. What matters to me is that when you do show up here, I know that I’m going to get to hear your heart. It’s a heart I love. xo

    • I thank you for your instrumental place in this new commitment to writing my heart. I am getting there. And it is so much better to have faithful companions of the heart to travel with.

      xo
      amy p

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