It has been a while since I fully committed to Lent. I’ve given up the occasional luxury or tried to develop a more disciplined life. This year, I was feeling compelled to consider giving up social media. It is a wonderful resource but also a drain. I haven’t yet learned how to use it without feeling a bit exhausted by it.
So, this year, I decided to use social media to help me be more disciplined. To write each day throughout Lent and to look for what God was teaching me. It has been a really helpful process and I felt so much more engaged with the build up to Easter. I’m not suddenly a transformed social media darling but I am definitely feeling more positive about how it can be used for good.
Here are my reflections from Holy Week. Hopefully I will collate all of them but for now, these are the days leading up to Easter Sunday.
#inLENTional Day Forty:
So, who’s watching the Masters? Those greens and blue skies and chirping birds are a pleasure to behold.
Tennis will always be first in my heart but golf has certainly been growing on me. The patience. The skill. It really is an endurance test of nerves and body. And when it goes wrong, the players have nowhere to hide. No towel to cover their face. Those must be the loneliest walks to the tee when you’ve seen your chance slip away.
But there is always the next hole. The chance of something spectacular happening. Of a shot which somehow defies the odds and brings them back into contention.
Tonight, I will stay up later than I should in the hope that Garcia or Rose are the next ones to awkwardly put on the famous green jacket.
And perhaps I need to remind myself that something spectacular may just happen soon.
I’ll ignore the bogeys. That’s for sure.
#inLENTional Day Forty-One:
I’ve had such a wonderful time with my church family as we have been learning more about prayer. Pete Greig is a legend! We’ve laughed, discussed, pondered, prayed, encouraged, eaten, searched and had fabulous fellowship together. It has been such a great experience throughout Lent and I’m excited to see what happens next. Check out the HTB Prayer Course here for more information.
#inLENTional Day Forty-Two:
The amazing Cath has so eloquently put in words the complexity of life. It is an uneasy dance between life and death.
How wonderful it is to be able to celebrate the joy of Cath being cancer free whilst holding the tension of the battles which weren’t won.
If you have a moment, then please go and check out Cath’s blog. It’ll fill you with hope. She’s one of those people who share their story with grace and authenticity. She’s a warrior!Read it here
#inLENTional Day Forty-Three:
Holy Week floats my boat. Can I admit that? My little heart finds a home in Holy Week because for me it epitomises what this life of faith is all about. A meal with friends on Thursday. A remembrance to be repeated. The bread and wine to sustain us. The pain, shock and sadness of Friday. The waiting in the unknown and grief of Saturday, holding onto hope that what Jesus said about himself was true but being filled with doubt. And then the glory …of Sunday. The empty tomb. The resurrected Lord. Hope fulfilled.
Oh yes, this week has it all. I wish that we could carry Eastertide into our everyday. To be able to sit with the sadness. Not hurry through it or brush it under the carpet. Give it time. Acknowledging the nuances of our painful situations. Verbalising the grief in our lives without fear. Fear of being seen as weak or moany or lacking in faith. And alongside this to come to a place of rejoicing. To filling our hearts afresh with life in all its fullness. To moments of elation sat next to moments of desperation.
That is what I dream of church looking like. That is what Easter means to me. We will have pain. We will mourn. But joy. Joy will come. We will wait. And we wait together.
#inLENTional Day Forty-Four:
This may come as a shock to some of you. But I can be a bit intense. I know, I know. Shocking.
It’s not something I’m embarrassed about or even attempting to change. In fact, the older I’m getting the more intense I’m becoming. I’m the person in the corner at the party having a deep and meaningful conversation with another guest I met as we both reached over for the stuffed vine leaves. I’m problematic because I’m becoming increasingly allergic …to small talk. To surface chat.
I’m a big fan of heart talk. Of finding out what makes you tick. Of making the moments we have to chat count. It actually tires me out when I have to make small talk. It’s a sure fire way to send me to the loo for a little nap.
Whereas big talk. Deep talk. Energises me. I love those moments. The connection and chance to know each other.
Since returning to London, we’ve had a fairly regular date in the diary with some of our friends to have dinner together. I call us the Friday Night Dinner Crew and I send more What’s App messages than are necessary but I love being with these people. And they let me be intense.
They let me tell them how much I love them. Even when we are in the middle of ordering our take away. They tolerate my probing questions where I’m trying to chip away at their hearts. They have let my intensity be ok.
And I guess, the root of all this is that I don’t want to come to a point in my life where I wish I’d told the people shaping me how I felt about them. Or to regret how I spent my time with people. How I avoided the awkward conversations because, well, they’re just awkward. How I missed the chance to really know people and be known by them. To be understood.
Today, reading about the Last Supper has encouraged me. Jesus was intense. He didn’t let his final meal with his friends pass by without it being significant. He made sure they would remember it. That His words counted. There was probably at least one disciple chomping on his bread and wishing Jesus could just relax for a bit.
I’m glad Jesus didn’t dial down the intensity. I’m glad that He never shied away from a hard conversation. That He always made the moment count.
I want to be like that. I want to keep finding myself in hard conversations where I choose to stay. To be fully present and engaged. I want to be even more intentional with my intensity.
You have been warned!
#inLENTional GOOD FRIDAY:
For many years I thought that when tears appeared unannounced that they should be avoided. Y’know, you start ‘doing’ something. Your bag suddenly needs checking on. Papers need shuffling. Your inner cheek needs biting. Your mind needs focusing on something else. At all costs, do not cry.
Particularly in public. And especially in church. Because that would be the worst. Crying leads to awkward glances. Weird side hugging. It leads to loud snot sniffling and it just makes everyone uncomfortable. So whatever it takes, if you have to cry then try and do it silently or not at all.
But then something happened. Let’s call it…life.
Life throws curveballs A LOT. Bereavement, divorce, infertility, to name a few. They cannot be tidied away. They cannot be silently wept over like a silent movie starlet.
Here’s what I have learned and why Good Friday means so much to me.
If you don’t let the tears out then they will come back with vengeance. You can try pushing your grief, disappointment, fear and other feelings down until you can’t ‘feel’ them but they won’t disappear. They will manifest themselves in other ways. Perhaps you’ll develop a very quick temper (I know a little about this) or a tendency to eat your feelings (no comment). Or maybe life will feel a bit too much and you’ll start wondering if there’s an easier way out (again, no comment).
Hiding the feelings doesn’t help.
On Good Friday we are given permission to weep. To look to the cross and remember what Jesus did. The pain He went through. For us. To remember that whatever pain we face. Whatever ‘stuff’ we’ve got going on He can handle it. To bring it to the cross. Lay it there. Shed the tears that are always there on the verge. Shed the tears that are buried so deeply that you’re afraid of the weight of them. That letting them out might crush you.
Today, is a day for weeping. It is ok to not be ok. To struggle to hold on to hope. To know that the joy of Sunday is coming but need to experience the darkness of Friday. The darkness helps us appreciate the light. We do not have to be afraid of the tears. They are allowed to come out. In all their messiness. My hope is for each of us to have people alongside us who can sit and be ok when we aren’t ok.
To wait with us for the light to come. Because it will.
#inLENTional EASTER SATURDAY:
Mr Greig, as always, says it so much better than I ever could. The silence of God does not equate to the absence of God. But it can feel that way. It can feel lonely. Disorientating. It can feel numb. It can feel unending.
In many ways, I like that there is very little in the Bible about this day. It feels right. That grieving would have been so fierce that it would be impossible to note it down. The fear that perhaps Jesus wasn’t who they thought or hoped. That perhaps this was it. That death had won. That injustice was the victor. That hope was gone.
In the silence, we still ourselves. We breathe more carefully. We listen. We continue to wait. For the next breath. The next day.
I am not good at waiting. I am a reluctant keeper of silence. I need Easter Saturday as a stark reminder that there is a necessity to the stillness. To the silence. My listening becomes more intent. My heart more attuned to what is happening.
Yes, we must have Easter Saturday. There will be silence.
#inLENTional Easter Sunday:
Hallelujah, He is risen! He is risen indeed, hallelujah!
Wishing you all a very joy filled Easter. A day of hope renewed.
Thanks for walking the journey through Lent to Easter with me. I’ve been so encouraged by everyone who has taken time to respond to my little #inLENTional series. The main nugget I’m taking away from this is the practice of looking for the new piece of knowledge each day. A new revelation. Or a reminder. It has helped me be more reflective and (at times) more present in my daily life.
There is so much beauty in this ordinary, extraordinary life. Let’s grasp it with both hands and know that the promise of life in all its fullness is for now. Not when we get our lives in order. Not when we’ve achieved our goals. It is for his minute. Life in abundance.
Big hugs to you all on this wonderful day.