Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Facing our Failures

I said I would post each day of Lent (minus 4 since the Sundays don't count), but I missed a few! So that brings me to today's topic: making amends! During Lent we repent. We actively turn away from our wrongdoing. What does that mean, to actively turn away? It means we do more than contemplate our wrongdoing. We take real steps to face our brokenness and then mend what can be mended.

Some things can't ever be mended. Death is real. The wages of sin is death, says the book of Romans. Not everything can be resurrected. Christians hope and believe in everlasting life. Hindus and Buddhists believe in reincarnation. Some people believe ghosts roam the halls of old castles. No matter. Sometimes, in this life, "Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead." Death just is. To be fair, the remainder of that verse in Romans (6:23) reads: "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Not all our earthly mistakes can be unwound, though, at least not to the point of bringing what's been broken back to its former glory.

Forgive and forget. Let go. Move on. We should do all of those things. We should also take some time, at least once a year, to look deeply into our brokenness. We are all broken. Not one of us is without sin and depravity. We all fall short of perfection.

It takes courage and strength to look deeply into our own darkness. It takes humility and heart to admit where we have been wrong. But those who cannot ever do this will stagnate. They will not be able to grow. They will remain stuck in unconscious harmful patterns.

Today I decided I am not going to turn a blind to some of my worst tendencies. I am going to face them. I faced them today and it felt good. I felt warmth spread across my heart. I felt joy well up within me. I made a phone call to a person I had considered dead to me. I left a message. In the past I have sent letters. I have prayed for forgiveness for the stubbornness and ego-protection that lead to the destruction of a relationship. I do not know if the relationship can ever be repaired. Even if it cannot, I took a step today I had not been able to take in the past. For me, that is the most meaningful action I could take during Lent. I died to my pride. I would rather be rejected ten times over than to be the one who protects herself so much that no one ever has the chance to reject her. Jesus did not protect himself. He was rejected and died from those wounds. He resurrected and promised to bind the wounds of even those who rejected him. That's the kind of person Jesus calls us all to be.

Seeing my past failures and harmful tendencies is somewhat painful, but it's also very encouraging, because I am more aware each day of the thoughts and patterns which engendered those failures. When I look back at my life two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago... I see such progress and such growth. If I did not face up to my failings, I would lose out on the rewards of my journey.

Self-awareness takes work. It's not for the smug and self-satisfied. Neither is Lent. Neither is any honest spiritual path.

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