Sunday, March 31, 2013

Why Today Needs Friday

 I read all week about the gravity of Lent and Good Friday, about ones I love who couldn't shrug off the weight of it all, couldn't stop crying, felt the visceral pull toward His wounds for them. 

As usual, I was the one crying over things more along the lines of spilled milk. 

I didn't celebrate Lent this year like I had the past two. I read post after post about people giving up sugar and changing their lives while I dipped strawberries in generic Nutella and tried not to smudge the laptop.

It made me doubt myself, feel a little defensive. Maybe my heart was wrung out or, hey - not all of us can be the sensitive soul. 

But our new pastor sent around an email saying there were 3 spots left for the Good Friday prayer vigil. I've never done a Good Friday prayer vigil before.  I missed the details last Sunday because I was at prison. But I emailed back without thinking twice. "I'll take 2:00."

The morning had been wonderful. I walked to the church with the sun on my cheeks and air that felt like a lost love, full of Mexican food so authentic that the menu was only in Spanish. Who was I to hold vigil in remembrance of the darkest day of all eternity? I'd sacrificed nothing, felt so little.

I said hello to the pastor, walked toward the sanctuary with my vest still buttoned to my chin. Pushed through the doors, got one foot in, and my insides crumbled. I told myself it was the open quiet, the stained glass streaming Spring.

But the truth is, the Holy Spirit took me in, welcomed me there, knelt with me near the floor, where my whispers were the only sound and my heart broke cleanly in gratitude. I saw the cross and didn't even have to try to feel its worth.

I'm ashamed to say there was a time I would have believed the Holy Spirit didn't live where I sat. And my heart is raw for the hidden truth that I have not loved as I should have, that I have taken the easier road of judgment when all that was really asked of me was to share what I have been given. It was gift and pain, sitting there in the quiet, knowing I was the reason for all of it, then reflecting on that incalculable love.

I am ramshakle, dusty, split at the seams, cracked at the corners. I'm the tiny house that I can't push out of my head, the one with the door I may never have the courage to knock. I'm the prisoner paying for his crimes while he tries to forget them. I'm the girl who can't stop telling lies. I am the one who clenches both fists around so much less than what she was made for. I'm the house covered in vines. I'm the domestic disturbance. The filthy child. The haunted mom. I'm the girl begging to be loved but suspicious that I'm not quite worth it. I'm in all this stuff that surrounds me.

God brought us here, and I've said all along that the big work would happen first in us. But words are just sounds until you walk and eat and drive and cry straight through them. Now, my reality makes it impossible to ignore the laundry bag of judgments I've dragged from town to town. Every day is an opportunity to clamp my eyes and choose what I have always believed, or open them to my full wrongness. He loves me enough to change me.

I'm losing patience with doctrine and dogma, popular opinion and politics, focusing my scattered thoughts instead on who He is, the truth of His Word, the greatness of His love, the completeness of His dominion, and the actual work He has for me. That's more than enough, and I'm starting to see the futility of trying to do the important living when I'm bogged down in the weeds.

All the while, He takes a wrecking-ball to my pride and hands me gifts so exquisite they bring my heart to its knees.

He is risen. He made plain His Holiness. He came back to live with us. He came back to live in us.

*Refrigerator artwork courtesy of Olivia.


  1. So much of this post speaks to me. This year I felt like such a failure as mom because I didn't do anything Lent-ish with my family. We didn't do Good Friday or any egg hunt besides in our own backyard. It has been a long year for me spiritually - I can link some of it back to an egg hunt heartbreak from last year. And I think I wanted God to do something emotional or wonderful in me this weekend. Instead, He took an argument I had after church and just showed me how much I need Him. How much I simply need Him.You wrote, "He loves me enough to change me." and that is what He has been doing bit by bit in me.

    1. Yep. I was impatient and snide and pretty much mean this morning as we got ready FOR EASTER SUNDAY. I knew it and I hated it, but then that's all I could think: THIS is why I need today. And Friday. This is why I need Him.

      And for what it's worth, my kids have never decorated eggs in their lives even though I keep buying those dumb dye kits. A new friend GAVE me treats last night to give to them this morning. And my sisters-in-law planned an egg hunt for all the kids. Oy.

  2. This is raw and honest and broken in the most beautiful Christ-makes-all-things-new sort of ways. And amen. To all of it. In need of Him always right along with you. He is risen indeed!

  3. The thing that I hate about being a Christian is...not being PERFECT yet. I mean, I really can't stand that I have to put up with myself for the rest of my life, and I can't figure out if that's me doubting the work of the cross or just being unwilling to accept the large quantity of humble pie I need to eat.
    I know I need Jesus. I KNOW IT! I just wish I didn't CONSTANTLY need him. Will I ever get to the place of, "Oh yes, I USED to do such and such but NOW i'm a Christian"...
    The End

  4. Oh dear. I was a big mom FAIL this morning, too. And all through the Lenten season. He continues to work in all of us though, doesn't He? We are so undeserving.

  5. And with that a resounding Amen. I always have these grand plans of how I will celebrate to ultimately fail. This time, I told myself to just to present and enjoy the day. We did our best not to bicker and kept the day low-key (no Pinterest mama here!), taking the time to be the three of us. We visited with the neighboring farm, thanking God for our wonderful community.

    For so long I thought there was a specific way to worship. While I enjoy a good sermon, I'm often left with an empty feeling when no sooner do we change out of church clothes does an argument ensue. Go figure!

    Now I go outside, dig in the dirt, and chat it up with God. My prayers seldom follow a blueprint, in fact, I don't think of myself as a good prayer partner. So instead there is "real" talk out on that dirt.

  6. My favorite part is "losing patience with dogma and doctrine... focusing on who he is, the truth of his word". I'm there and I struggle. Sometimes the whole thing gets cloudy. But He is risen indeed and dwells in me.

  7. hallelujah, what a savior. and girl.
    i love you.

  8. Mostly I just stalk your blog. And never comment. But I wanted you to know that I loved what you wrote today.

    Thank you.

  9. So much truth here!!! Anything that possibly could have gone wrong yesterday, did... Around 10am I had already decided we needed a do-over on Monday. I kept thinking "this is an okay day for Friday, but Sunday should be so different! My joy should be uncontainable today, regardless of circumstance." When everyone finally slept and I got in bed, I was so overwhelmed by the truth that His resurrection means so much more because of days like these!!

  10. Ahhh, when a wrecking ball hits our pride. Bam, it hurts so bad, but feels so good.

  11. Beautifully written from your heart.

    Thank you ~ FlowerLady

  12. so much...loves enough to change me....i'm tired of pretending to be who I think i should be....i want to be who he made me to be....but it scares me to distraction....

  13. So glad to see you are in contact with Olivia!! That makes me happy.

  14. Only you can write my heart like you do.

  15. i bookmarked this & have been waiting until i had a second to sit down and really give the undivided attention i love to give to YOUR words.
    i feel like i'm walking right beside you when you explained walking into the church.
    you do that. you open up your heart & just share it. simply and so profoundly.

    friday i was pretty spent. just on the brink of emotion all day. had read some articles about crucifixion. watched the passion of the christ. when i survey the wondrous cross and think of all he gave up for us...i can't even dare say i can imagine a glimpse, but it amazes me. i'm amazed that HE loves us inspite of ourselves.

    love you

  16. oh how I love this. the simplicity of your words, the gravity of the cross. thanks for pouring it out on the page. you're beautiful, sweet sister.

  17. every single lent i fail.
    it's so "me" to set out to DO deserve feel worthy of his love...his sacrifice
    and every year he shows me AGAIN that we were never, ever meant to be able to keep the was only supposed to be a tutor that led us to Jesus and our need for him as our savior.

    he keeps digging deeper that truth into my heart, and i am grateful. it is HIS work...not mine.

  18. possibly my favorite of your posts. (along with my 200 other favorites. but really.)

    'And my heart is raw for the hidden truth that I have not loved as I should have, that I have taken the easier road of judgment when all that was really asked of me was to share what I have been given.'

    i've lived this time and again, and the only saving thing is that He manages to break my pride and my heart every time, giving me clean sweet access to Him.

  19. Shannan ~ don't ever ever ever lose patience with doctrine! It's what the disciples fought for, it's what they and our Christian heroes of the faith died for, and it's what we must know to defend the faith in these last days where, as 2nd Thessalonians 2 says, "...even the very elect will be deceived." Yes, DOWN with religious rhetoric and dogma... but UP with doctrine and knowing His Word SO well that we can't easily be deceived or swayed from Truth. Know it, breathe it, share it, ROLL in it ~ especially if or when it is taken from us in this ungodly world and we must then teach it to our grandchildren based on what we remember. It will be a blessing to our future generations of we, as Christian women, know our doctrine and can defend it at the drop of a hat. How do we know a counterfeit gospel when it comes? By having studied the original.

    I understand your frustration, but please never toss doctrine!!
    Lovingly, from your sister in Christ,

    1. Thanks for your concern. For what it's worth, I'm not referring to Biblical truth (as I stated in the post) but all of the nit-picky denominational differences and church doctrine. Biblical truth is all there is, it's everything, fundamental. But we often stretch and distort it into something it is not. Also, we can be prone to studying at the expense of doing.

      I took pains to clarify that I'm not for tossing out the Bible! Sorry if I still wasn't clear enough. :)

  20. I love those "insides crumbling" moments with God where He meets us where we are and we leave forever changed.

  21. Beautiful! I was also weepy Good Friday feeling unworthy of all He has done to make me His own. I am bratty and willful in need of grace which He gives so freely. I understand your loss of patience. Religion often trips searching souls on their way to the cross.

    I miss you! xo