Lent is a time filled with the promise of profound healing that is often missed as we simultaneously cling to disorder. We want to make Lent great. This is the year! And in the great fervor of wanting to do more and be more, we put a coat of paint over the brokenness that God comes to heal. We remember that we are dust, but we forget that we are loved, and that Lent is not about our power, but His.
In the Gospels, Christ did not demand a complicated list of boxes to be checked from those he chose to heal, only faith. Sometimes, it wasn’t even their own…
“Little girl, I say to you, ARISE!”
Many of my Lents have been spent in the midst of physical and mental suffering as a result of chronic illness. Every year, I made a list of what I was going to do well–accomplish–in the 40 days allotted to this progress toward holiness. And every year I dropped the ball and wallowed in the reality that I was not just dust, but less than dust.
By the time Easter arrived, I was depleted. My family would excitedly attend the Easter Vigil Mass, but I found it so challenging that I would have been glad to simply splay on the cold tile floor…
Respite. Please, Jesus.
Years later, I now look forward to Lent as that time of respite instead of a time of strain. Effort but not anxiety. God’s heart is not a place of tension unless we are making it so. I realize that I was striving to build my own ladder to heaven instead of allowing Him to instruct my heart and body to surrender to the Resurrection. I wanted to focus on my failures. He wanted me to focus on Him.
So many of us know how difficult it is to heal from a place of trauma and stress. Have we explored the ways in which we’ve allowed our Lenten activities to become a source of stress and an obstacle to unity and closeness with our Lord? It’s worth taking the time to write down our expectations and whether they are fruitfully suited to our circumstances. Are they of us? Of ego? Or of God?
I believe that my many years of illness have been permitted by God to allow my ego to be stripped down past where I ever would have chosen to go. I go into lent with nothing. Diminutive and broken. And it is in that place that I have no energy, no objection, no pride left with which to keep the Lord from occupying the space.
And He fills it.
To be clear, there’s always something I can find to distract myself from His healing gaze! But perhaps I at least have a glimpse of the fruitfulness of emptiness, of grief, and of pain.
Do it again, Lord. Draw me near. Whatever you have to do. But please, be gentle with me… Everything hurts.
He knows that already. He comes to me not as a bookkeeper who is counting my deposits, but as a Master Healer, who not only knows my needs when I do not, but has made provision for them from the beginning. He is so good.
I’m ready for Lent. I’m ready to repent, to turn towards Him again, and to surrender to healing. Thanks be to God.
About the Author,
Melody Lyons is a Catholic author pursuing the restoration of a Culture of Life through natural health education and the proclamation of the Gospel. She is the author of the book, The Sunshine Principle: A Radically Simple Guide to Natural Catholic Healing, and writes about integrated Catholic culture and the pursuit of holiness at melodylyons.com. Melody and her husband, Chris, have been married for 27 years and are blessed with eight children and two grandchildren.