I had the privilege of spending a weekend with a friend a few weeks back, and we had a precious afternoon just the two of us together where a few things came up in our conversation that have made me think a lot about my Lent, and how I would like to spend it – how I think He is wanting me to spend it.
May I share these things with you to see if they may be of help to you too?
My friend has faced and lived through the horror of widowhood. I simply cannot imagine. She is well acquainted with sorrow and grief. Yet she is so full of life and energy. Her home is one where tears are never far away, and giggles and laughter abound. And in our conversation these two realities flowed side by side.
As I have reflected on our time together I have found myself drawn to this idea – that my Lent, this Lent of 2022, should be a time of lament and laughter, both, side by side.
There is much to lament over, just now, isn’t there? The situation with Russia and Ukraine is heart breaking. The world feels as though it has changed and we are all waiting to see exactly how. And in many respects we are helpless bystanders, watching on at third hand as the horrors unfold. Though of course we can, and must, pray.
These last two years of living within a pandemic have been hard and cruel: so many and so much lost. Many of us have gotten through on a mix of adrenalin, surges of positive thinking and the kindness of friends and family. But there will have been moments for each of us when that positivity ran out and it all felt simply awful.
And life with all its ups and down, trials and triumphs continues, bringing lots to gladden our hearts, but much too to confuse us, anger us, bewilder us. We will each have unspoken questions, unanswered prayers, dashed hopes, broken hearts even.
Where do we go with the things that are causing us pain, that bewilder or confuse us?
What do we do with these things?
Perhaps we need a season of lament? To allow ourselves time to breathe deep into the depths, honest and real, after these last few years and in face of all that has kicked off in our world this last week.
To take time to bring thoughts and feelings, however broken, unreasonable, deep, confused they may be about whatever they may be about before our God.
Not with a plan for resolution, or expecting that we must be able to turn them all into praise.
Not feeling duty bound to present God with a happy conclusion,
… daring to trust that He wants to hear what is hard for us, and what causes our tears. He can handle our anger. He can enfold our heart break. He will listen to our questions. He will sit with us as we shout, cry or ramble. He does not expect us to fix it all on His behalf and wrap everything up in a neat, positive bow for Him.
So please release yourself from any of those bizarre ‘Christian’ responsibilities!
So, do you need to lament?
And what do you need to lament?
Is this the time to set aside some time to engage with this ancient practise?
There are as many ways of doing this as there are people on this planet. So may you be able to find the way that is yours. And find Him with you and waiting when you do.
Whilst at my friends, a Tropic rep called by with a whole bunch of make up samples to try as she was wanting to find the right foundation colour to match her skin tone. My friend had an afternoon playing with lots of beauty products. When we had talked the day before she had shared of the importance of self-care in her journey. I know self-care is a bit of a buzz word but when someone who has lived through the loss of a husband tells you that it matters and really helps, you do sit up and listen.
Pampering has played a big part for my friend. Beauty products, make up, massage. These things have brought her joy, made her laugh, they have helped to ease some of the weight of the grief. Does that sound crazy? That lipstick can heal a little of a broken heart?
Did you know the Lord has provided for your health and well being in and through the things of this world?
As Christians we can end up so suspicious and cynical about ‘worldly’ things, can’t we, but is that just a false prison that cuts us off from the blessings He has put there for us to find?
And whilst Lent is traditionally a season of restraint perhaps this Lent needs to be a bit different as we have lived through so much restraint these last two years, so much suppression and abstinence.
Perhaps this Lent needs to be about laughter too.
It is healthy to lament and it is healthy to laugh. And both can exist side by side.
So I have decided that I am going to take up wearing lipstick during this Lent. I was so inspired by the bright and cheerful colours my friend used. My slightly neglected make up bag has a number of equally neglected lipsticks in it and, with the help and guidance of my daughter, I have begun trying them out already – copper, plum shine, exotique, nude. I have to admit to being surprised by how cheerful it has felt to wear some lippie!
And how my heart has been blessed by this little indulgence.
So if any local folk see me around don’t be shocked. Laugh along with me at this little step I am taking this Lent to bless my heart.
But what could you do? What is there in the world around you, God given, to bless your heart with laughter?
It could be absolutely anything!
What is it that makes you feel really alive, really present, really here? What is it that makes your heart glad and your lips curl in happy laughter? A little indulgence that blesses your heart? An activity you may be brilliant at, or actually hopeless at, but that makes you glad to be alive. A place, a person, a pet who always cheers your day. Something to watch or read, or something to bake or make. Perhaps something you haven’t done in a very long time.
Could you take some time this Lent to find out? To receive what He has put in this world for you.
And, please, let me know what it is when you find it. I would simply love to know.