I usually love the season of Lent. It is always a difficult time for me, but spiritual growth seems apparent. Often, something very trying happens in my personal life, which adds to the overall suffering and penitence of the season. One of my friends quips to me every year (when I complain about some new struggle), “Well, what did you want? It is Lent, after all.”
This year has been strangely absent of any feelings for me. I am going through the motions, giving up several things, trying to spend a little more time in prayer and caring for others, but I am feeling spiritually dry. Lent came a little early at my house. December and January were filled with new challenges, I hungered for normalcy and peace. Now, the water has leveled (emotionally) and I don’t feel, well, anything at all. I am in the desert.
The desert is a challenging place to be. The sameness, the extreme temperatures (hint, hint, I’m in early menopause), the desire to just sit down and stop trying to get anywhere is overwhelming me. I try to pray more and I feel like praying less. I jump into things at church and the exhaustion takes over. I am a doer and not having emotional energy to ‘do’ is a foreign feeling. When Jesus was in the desert, He was tempted. So am I. Tempted to find mindless distractions, to give in to feelings of unworthiness and even despair. How then, do I find strength to resist?
Root out the near occasion of sin. I had fallen into a pattern of entertaining myself with forms of social media or television. It wasn’t until I heard myself excusing the language used in one program, that I realized that I had compromised my beliefs just to be entertained. I have made a conscious decision to stop watching that show.
Pondering the desert also makes me think of the woman at the well. Jesus shares with her that He is the ‘living water’ that she thirsts for. He confronts her life and encourages her to look at the destruction she has helped cause in her own life. He gives her hope and she, in turn, shares the ‘Good News’ with others. I too, thirst. Turning my heart to a greater understanding of the Lord, frequenting confession to address my own destructive patterns and then sharing the Lord with others can help to quench it. So, I am spending the remainder of Lent working on a new project on the Eucharist. Having a goal and spreading the Faith, will give me new hope too.
I will trudge through. There is a famous saying about starting a journey with one step. With this in mind, I will put one foot in front of another until this dry season in my life ends. I pray it will be with the coming of Easter in the spring, but if not, I will continue on until this desert gives way to lush pastures in my heart. I will place my trust in God, that He is completing a work in me that I cannot see at this time. I will ask for this cup to pass, but I will follow God’s will in this desert season.
Copyright 2016 Mary Lou Rosien