Such a Poignant Night

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Ash Wednesday is more important to me than Christmas, or even Easter. It is such a poignant night of hymns, laments, Scripture, and testimony from the altar about ways in which we are desperate to change...I usually mention my tiny control issues at the altar. Also, my vanity and self-loathing.
— Anne Lamott, Some Assembly Required

I move into Lent uncertainly this year. I thought I knew what to give up, but after meeting with my therapist on Monday after a two-month hiatus, I feel less sure about letting me determine what is good for me. 

I sensed in a powerful way, during the last ten minutes of the session on Monday, that I was in a sacred space. I attribute God showing up to my friend Janna's prayers as she's the only one who knew my appointment was right then. The therapist spoke slowly, deliberately, thoughtfully as if the words were being given to her on as-needed basis in those moments.

She spoke from her own experience about how our identities are often defined by the trauma we've experienced. She said that pressing deeper into the problem we want to solve usually doesn't actually solve it or make it go away (read: further focus on giving up a food for Lent is not likely to magically release me from the desire to control in this area). The goal is to work on the identity issues, to approach the core lies and disintegrate them, and then the behaviors that are triggered by past trauma lose their appeal. 

Even though my telling is not likely to be completely understood without having the whole story, please know that it was an important moment for me. I realized that my decision to approach Lent with a mentality of "I'm gonna do this, like this, because behavior modification around food must be the answer" is answering the wrong question. 

On the drive home from my appointment, I sensed in my spirit that God was gently correcting my approach:  How can I practice not getting what I want? makes it too much about me. It's not on me to figure out, to follow through, or to fix myself. The better question is What does God want for me during this season? 

What are ways I can tune in to His voice and to His love for me? Even prior to therapy, I have known for some years that the core lie I've believed is You're on your own, so you better take care of you. That translates to - Take charge. Know what you want. Pursue it. Demand it if necessary. Forge ahead. Make decisions. Be disciplined. Be in control. Don't make a mistake, not with food, scheduling, or otherwise. Expect much of yourself and meet the expectation. And while you're at it, you can barely be a person for others because you have to be that person for yourself. 

Obviously, that is not a nice way to live because it is full of untruths, while it is the truth that sets us free. Tonight during our Ash Wednesday service, the truth I heard that was God is the one who holds me together and He is the one in whom I am kept. It feels like God has me entering Lent in this place of not knowing on purpose. But I like to know. I like to have a plan. I like to know what the rules are. I like to go all or nothing. 

And here I am today, being reminded that I am dust. I am breakable. I am human. I don't have a working solution or a plan. And God says it is good, this state I'm in, and He wants to show me what is good for me. I don't like waiting either, but here I am, waiting for the breath of life to bring my disparate pieces together and form a whole, and holy, creature.