My seventh-grader wants to “quit the piano.” Her announcement coincides with the season of Lent. It also coincides with her ongoing struggles to adjust to middle school. Learning to manage her time, choosing where to focus her energies, discovering her strengths and weaknesses are all part of this process.
Lent is like that as well. We are at a loss of how to “keep it together” and get through each day. Ultimately, we find ourselves not so much in what we have given up, but in God who reminds us of His plan for us.
I do not know what God’s plan is for her, specifically. As a parent, I struggle with my responsibilities to nurture in her the possibilities and protect her from going down the wrong path. I’ve come to notice in her growing mind that she asks herself about “needs” and “wants.” It is the basic algebra of her moral compass.
Often, we tend to think of needs and wants as either externally imposed or internally generated. We ask ourselves “Who says so?” or “What does this do for me?” There are limits as well as real guidelines in each view. We can challenge external reality to question regulations and impositions, but we can’t refuse to accept consequences. For example, speed limits might be arbitrary on an empty road, but losing control of your car is a possible outcome. Similarly, we can challenge our own self-governance by realizing that we are not a law unto ourselves. To insist that we know better is to cast aside common sense. Even more harmful, is the temptation to think that we know better than our own Creator.
Ultimately, just like in the Genesis stories, we are tempted to find our knowledge and “freedom” in some other fruit. Instead, we should remember the source of our being made “very good” is in the image and likeness of God. We are meant to have God participate in our wants and needs.
As we move from the memory of ashes to their ultimate destiny, God also asks us to listen. Listen to what Jesus says to Satan in the desert. Listen to what God says on Mt. Tabor. Listen to where our Lenten journey leads: “Not my will but yours be done.”[tweet “In Lent we are reminded of God’s plan for us. @tribeplatypus”]
My daughter worries that she does not have enough time and has wisely chosen to trim back her activities. But some things are not as easy to take up again and require maintaining a regular routine. Some things, like Lent, offer us the opportunity to make a total change.
Jesus, did you ever feel rushed with your time on earth?
Help us to give ourselves over to the what you offer us more fully during this season of Lent.
Copyright 2019 Jay Cuasay