Today is day 24 of Lent and there are 21 days until my chocolate fast ends. If anyone out there wants create me a ridiculously decadent chocolate concoction to celebrate the end of this torture I might make you my official favorite person.
It is also St. Patrick’s Day. Honoring one of my favorite saints and by far my favorite island. However,…. for the first time in years I am not wearing green. I am not pinching and stealing kisses under the guise that I am Irish. Not because I have had a drastic change of life or philosophy but because I just don’t care this week.
It is amazing how when you commit yourself to some sort of spiritual boot camp you suddenly become a larger target and much more vulnerable to trials, disappointments and grief.
My last post, enthusiastically laid out my Lenten plan for betterment: no chocolate (you already know how well that is going) and the commitment to finding a “silver lining” in every aspect of difficulty. I even shared my most recent disappointments and failures and how I had managed to find a positive in them. This week…..not so much. This week the clouds have been abundant, but without the refreshment of rain. I am in a Lenten Drought.
I am in the Word daily, pouring my heart out to Christ hourly and I feel as though my cries are reverberating against a glass ceiling blocking my signal to Heaven. Last weekend, my awesome professor shared about an experience when he heard God’s voice after experiencing a great defeat. Only, because he asked. So I asked. I begged, I pleaded….. and I waited…and waited…and wept. Because I did not hear the voice of God. Nor did I feel his presence. “Holy Spirit, come be with me” turned into a vast emptiness.
So, I asked for forgiveness. I prayed for the sins tainting my ability to hear Christ be revealed to me….. and this week I have honestly been plagued by doubt, lost my sense of purpose and simply ached.
All good marriages experience growing pains. What makes them good is that they experience growth. A couple grows closer together and closer to God through the difficulties. For me, I simply feel a growing distance. And this week a very dear friend admitted devastating news about her own marriage. My heart hurt for both of us.
I had a interview this week for Seminary where I had to figure out how to remain positive about all the struggles of school. I had to discuss why I was there and what I was doing with it, and for a brief second I couldn’t even remember why I had been so passionate or what had brought me there. And I had to say…“No. I am not leading in my church….” as the adviser furiously scribbled notes into my file.
At work I was faced with conflicts I am not ready to deal with. I’m not often faced with uncooperative co-workers when advocating for my special ed kids, but this week I got it. And yesterday I learned that a student I have come to care about is probably going to jail. I will put my big girl pants on and figure out how to be diplomatic when working with other teachers (even those with different teaching philosophies than my own) but I cannot save this other student from himself or the consequences of his actions.
The child is one that I have taught 2 full years, and the only student in my short career to greet me daily with, “I love you Mrs. Williams.” And while he is not currently in my class, I daily remind him to put on his I.D., hustle to class, pull up his pants, and tuck in his shirt…My way of letting him know I care. And now, because my influence ends at the door, he, along with three other juveniles have been charged with a violent crime.
And I am dry….looking desperately for the silver lining in these things.
Perhaps, I have a new found confidant in realizing my friend and I have the same struggles. Perhaps, I will discover a passion of efficacy with my students and accountability for myself and my co-workers…..and maybe, just maybe….(as a friend told me): “This could be that student’s moment of grace. If it were a Flannery O’Conner story it would be.” We are in the South, after all, and Milledgeville for that matter.
I have been studying Matthew for some time. This week I am tasked with interpreting the meaning of “you must be perfect…” (Matt. 5:48a). While perfection seems a far off thing I have begun to formulate some vague idea of how we deal with the conflicts we face: Being angry, temptations, keeping our word, going the extra mile and loving our enemies (Matt. 5: 17-42). And I’ve realized that I’ve faced all of these since Lent has started.
Scripture tells us that Jesus, the Christ was led to the wilderness where he fasted for forty days. And even he, when at his weakest, was tempted and harassed by the Devil. Our Christ, in a dry place, faced temptation. And I keep clinging to the idea that just as He was comforted at the end that perhaps soon I will feel some relief. (Matt. 4:11)
So Lord, help me grow more like you. When I do not feel you….when I feel alone, help me to remember that your ways are perfect as is your will.
The Psalmist said, “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. “ Psalms 55: 22
May I continue to seek your face so that joy may come in the mourning.
I’ve put it all behind me, nothing left to do or doubt … But every silver lining always seems to have a cloud …that comes my way. –Paper Airplane, Alison Krauss & Union Station