When Lent Chooses You


Megan Smillie // Tales From the Trenches

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February 23  

I’ve etched a cross on my right wrist—thin sharpie dragged across my veins. Lifeblood to my body, hope to my soul. I don’t need the cross there to remember. Heaven knows, how can I forget? The ultimatum we had to issue, the slamming of drawers, of closets, of car doors, and he is off. Rejecting our rules and standards, wanting only to wander far away from the sturdy path made straight—to the wild and unknown way of the world. The cross is there to remind me. Who is the victor. Who claims the win. My heart oscillates between sorrowing and seething. How could you, God? And then—have mercy, please, have mercy, most merciful God.

My right wrist clenched tight another day by another child rushed to the ER. I stood hunched over his bed as he fought the waves of severe panic. This boy-man kept asking me if he was going to die. I kept calming him, speaking in soothing tones, willing his heart rate down, fighting my own panic and dread. How was I to know? I do not hold the keys to the unknown. I do not know, dearest child—yes, you are fine. You are okay. I have no idea what’s wrong—you will be fine. Merciful God, please let him be fine.

My heart is decimated along with another adult-child of mine, one thousand miles away. Navigating a heart wrenching rejection, re-working a life-plan once thought secure, re-imagining a once-brilliant future turned-bleak. It’s excruciating not to be there. Not to physically hold her when she feels the weight of the unknown crashing down. Please be her comfort, merciful God. I cannot be there—please hold her heart, comfort her thoughts, please, please show up for her. 

Lent has made its appearance right on cue. We in Texas have felt it acutely this week! So much to offer, to suffer, to hand over. Christ chose to hand himself over in the very early hours of Good Friday morning. Kissing his betrayer, he willingly walked to his death, whereas most days I feel more like St. Peter, thrashing out, intending harm to those who wish to hurt the ones I love. But that is not the way of Christ, the healer. Sometimes our Lent chooses us, and we have to obediently walk to this death of ourselves, to take up the cross chosen especially for us, in order to bear the fruit of the resurrection. It’s a hard and narrow road, and I, for one, am not overly-thrilled to be walking it. Yet the promise of the grain of wheat, which must die in order to bear fruit, gives such hope and promise. I do not wish to remain merely a grain of wheat, but to burst forth in abundance. May none of our sufferings be in vain. 

 

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