Lent is Hard
It seems to happen every year. It feels like walking through sludge, or standing in quick sand. The air feels thicker and seems brown to me. My shoulders bow forward from the weight of it.
Outwardly, I could blame it on my allergies which leave my eyes and nose red. I could blame it on the bout with strep my daughter experienced last week. I could blame it on the busyness of this season in ministry.
But that isn’t it.
I just feel off. I suppose you could name it a slump or a funk.
Let’s go with funk. It feels more awkward to say and that suits this feeling.
This is my fourth year of formally observing Lent. (I’m not from a liturgical background so this is a new discipline for me.) And this is the fourth time, around week 3 of Lent that the funk has hit. My journals affirm this hunch.
I’ve tried to shop my way out of it. I’ve tried to schedule my way out of it. I’ve tried to work my way out of it. I’ve tried to eat my way out of it. I’ve tried to sunbathe myself out of it (don’t judge! Vitamin D deficiency is real!). I’ve even tried to diet my way out of it.
The truth is, in my experience, the funk is just part of this season of Lent.
After nearly 3 weeks of asking the same question in prayer, “Where am I resisting you God?” I am ready to move on. I find myself bored with this question and the answers that have surfaced feel like some real work to do. I am ready to do the work now. Can’t we just move on the work, God?
But for some reason, Lent is still here and I have committed to asking this question until Easter. And so, I sit with this funk. I try to tell God that I think it is time to move on because I am bored. I try to describe the funk in my prayers, color and feel. In fact, I was pontificating in my prayer this weekend about the feeling of the funk and how I despised the funk when a horrible idea hit me: what if the funk is part of the invitation of Lent?
EEEWWWW. I don’t like that.
The longer I sit with the funk, I become aware that all of these places where I have been resisting God are protecting difficult places in me. I don’t want to open those up for a reason; it will hurt! And still, even in that admission, I assume that I will be doing the opening up; on my own schedule and at my own pace because it is all about me, really.
Lent is hard because it asks me to admit that I am helpless. I am needy. I am broken and lost. And I cannot fix myself.
I cannot pull myself from this funk. I cannot force myself to stop resisting God. I cannot.
Lent asks me to sit with this admission of helplessness for 40 full days: to feel the despair of separation and know that it outside of my power to fix it.