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…
Fr. Al Lauer from Presentation Ministries gave a beautiful meditation on the feast of St. Martha on busy-ness. He explained how busy-ness can be a healthy and beautiful thing if we are called to it, but that the moment it takes us away from Christ and the peace he wants to offer us, then our busy-ness is no longer godly.
The first question this obviously leads to is, what is God’s will for us? We think of it as something scary, oppressive, controlling. When we consider following God’s will, we tend to think only of rules and regulations. We think of lines like, “Whomever wants to come after me must take up his cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:24) and of having to do hard things and give up what we are most attached to. We think of having to change. We think of Job, Lazarus and Calvary. How could that possibly make us happy? What’s in it for me if I’m called to “die to myself” (Mk. 8:35, Jn. 12:24, etc)?
Did you ever try to put on a front hoping to make someone else see you in a different light than how you see yourself? Have you ever thought about it? How do you feel about the way others see you and the way you see yourself? There’s a whole new craze of self esteem promos out lately… how is that working out for you? Does repeating a mantra change the way you see yourself? Does it ever make you feel torn between worlds when the way you see yourself, the way others see you and the reality of who you want to be don’t seem to match up? Have you ever asked why?
Do you get frustrated by failure? Do you feel that all too often your best efforts and best laid plans are thwarted by irritating nothings that somehow have the power to ruin everything? I’m pretty sure most human beings can agree that we aren’t the biggest fans of not measuring up to our own standards, or, even worse, to the standards we feel others place on us. As disappointing as it may be, we are all human, and part of being human necessarily entails weakness and imperfection. How can we ever find peace with our reality if we are trying to become something we are not (namely, perfect)? Is there any way to see our weakness in a more positive light?
So many people think that being yourself happens by doing stuff that “makes you” you. We fight so hard and so long to have the right job, the right clothes, the right car, phone, relationship, financial or social status so that we can prove to others who we “really are”. But isn’t this just us trying to create for ourselves a worth to fill the void within us that comes from not really knowing?