We love because he first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19
I have been struggling a lot lately with being so needed. Anyone who is a mother knows this constant feeling all too well. You start to feel like your worth is purely utilitarian, like you don’t matter except when someone needs something – which they constantly do. There is no such thing as free time, and when there is, you pretty much always spend it doing something necessary. With four littles now, the perfectionist side of me is ashamed to admit that I am completely at the end of my rope.
The thing is, it’s always when I get to the end of my rope that God teaches me.
Loneliness is a real struggle for every human being at some point in their lives. Single people feel it “because they aren’t in a relationship” and those in relationships feel it when they find themselves at odds with their partner. Parents feel it when they feel unappreciated and unsupported. Sad people feel it when they need someone to talk to and their friend doesn’t answer the phone. Happy people feel it when they have no one to share their joy with. Employees or students feel it when their coworkers or classmates refuse to carry their share of the work load. Travelers feel it when they long for home or experience a language barrier. Anyone who wants to better themselves or make a difference in this life feels alone because betterment is always a fight against the current.
But what if I told you, no matter the cause, there is an infallible and always available cure for your lonliness?
Does Lent feel like a season for frustration and irritation? A time of complaining about all our discomforts, voluntary or otherwise? Do your good intentions feel somehow unappreciated or worthless? Does your extra prayer or acts of service seem empty, aimless or uncertain? If so, you might be focusing on the wrong thing this Lent…
What is Lent all about? Why do we have this season anyway? Is it about giving up candy, Netflix, Facebook and meat? Why all the focus on “sacrifice”? Why do we fast? How do we decide what to “give up”? Why do we pray? How do we pray? Why do we spend this time focusing on filling food banks and upping our tithe? Is it just a good time of year to make us feel guilty about everyone less fortunate? Just a good time of year to make us feel guilty about being fortunate? a time of year to make us feel guilty about what we give up or don’t give up? about whether we meet or don’t meet our resolutions?
If we don’t experience the extreme levels of guilt often characteristic of this Season we might find ourselves experiencing other “non-lenten” emotions such as apathy or resistance. “I’m a good person, why should I have to do anything different”? or “I hate lent because I just can’t deal without my daily Starbucks” It is true that Lent encourages us to make sacrifices, to die to ourselves like Christ, to give more, to work harder, to move outside our comfort zone…. but the purpose often gets lost in the details. Let’s get back to what really matters!
Is there a way to KNOW God loves you? We can’t get away from the cheesy emoticon bumper-stickers that say “Smile, God loves you!” Does it ever feel like people are “just saying that”? Have you ever felt like saying, “It’s been such a crappy day/week/month/year/life that it sure doesn’t feel like it”?
If we are struggling with the question of lovability, hearing about God’s love for you can almost feel nauseating in its commonality.