Breaking up with a god

Photo: Sarah (Rosenau) Korf, Flickr via Creative Commons

Photo: Sarah (Rosenau) Korf, Flickr via Creative Commons

Today begins the second week of the Christian season called Lent. It’s the forty day stretch (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter, beginning with Ash Wednesday (which happened last week). Traditionally it’s marked as a season of intentional reflection, introspection, repentance, and self-denial in order to fully enter into the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection as the means of God’s ultimate grace to us in forgiving sin and delivering us from death to life.

My first experiences in the Christian faith were among communities with a strong fear of anything “too Catholic,” so I didn’t hear much about the Christian calendar and seasons until I started hanging out with monks. I learned to love the rich, thick traditions, the rhythms and seasons and rituals rooting us into an ancient faith and connecting us to myriad believers across the centuries.

For several years I made some feeble attempts at practicing Lent, fasting meat and sweets or media or caffeine (that last one was a bad decision, for myself and everyone who knew me). When I came into my current faith community, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find a group of people interested in honoring these ancient seasons in our very non-traditional context. This is the fourth year I’ve entered into the Lenten season with a group of believers who are centering their time and worship services around the ideas of reflection and repentance.

However, this is also the year I’ve had the hardest time figuring out “what to give up” or what extra practice to “take on.” Since I generally try to find a way to link my fasting or extra practice to a specific sin or struggle, I’ve spent a few weeks really trying to narrow in on the most destructive habit or issue I’m currently engaging. Unfortunately what’s surfaced is considerably deeper than something simple, like sloth or greed. I’ve discovered a remnant stronghold in my thinking, left over from my time in what could be considered a spiritually abusive environment. Turns out that impish little god I believed in for so many years still has my ear in regard to one final aspect of my life.

I’m not sure how to summarize “I’m giving up believing a false god’s lies about my love life and sexuality for Lent” into something a bit more…palatable for those passing conversations with acquaintances who are in the Lenten boat with me. I’m not sure what I could possibly give up that would impact this particular struggle, and the best practice I can come up with is to read the epistles and other people’s prayers with an eye and ear tuned to hearing the true God speak to me about these things.

In the end, this season is heading somewhere, toward a cross and an empty tomb. Facing the naked, raw truths within can be a hellish endeavor. Jesus came out of that tomb having conquered sin, death, and hell once and for all. In Him lies my hope.


1 Comment

  1. Adiel said,

    March 12, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Beautiful, Mandy. Not that I expect anything less from you. I do hope this raw time leads you to rich rejoicing in the Resurrection. I don’t currently observe Lent, but I am so drawn to it. Hearing your own experience of it is helpful to me in my journey. Thank you.

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