“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”
American Christians have a love affair with Lent. It is that time when you give up shit to honor the sacrifice of Christ. Most folks approach Lent with the passion of Richard Simmons at a dolphin shorts convention. Folks give up soda, fast food, sugar, processed flour, masturbation, particular sexual acts, booze, song, and other particularly addictive habit in hopes to lose weight, get fit, get partnered, or some other self serving factor. We seem to treat the Lenten season as a renewed “New Years” a place to make up for failing in our resolutions so quickly.
There seems to be little about drawing nearer to God or to deepen ones faith. It seems to be about subtraction and addition of self and other parts of other’s selves. Lent becomes a depository of crap and broken hopes and ideas. Lent loses its appeal and the fat part of Strove Tuesday conquers the solemn stance of relationship with each other. Difficulties arrive and relationships depart.
Last year I remembered my past and sought to run for the Lenten season. I remembered all kinds of stuff. By far this was a beautiful and important practice for me to deepen my faith with God. It was also the first time I was not trying to get shit out of God hand and into mine. I remembered for the sake of remembering who I am, was, and God revealed something about who I am to be in the process.
As for the running, that was mostly about losing weight and it provided a base for spiritual growth but I dropped it due to injury and struggle to consistently pick it back up. I work out like mad but the running part still scares me. Imagine this…I am running from running.
I am signed up for a mini-marathon in April so I will run. I just am taking the God portion out of it right now and doing it because I need to for my health and well being to be able to perform my job. When I do not work out I feel bad and function poorly. So, I work out and I win, my wife wins, my friends win and my congregation wins.
I wrestle with letting Lent roll on by without me biting that tasty fruit of self-deprecating practices to lull me in to a better relationship with you, with me and with God. I am tempted to reclaim my Jesus Ninja style and read the Bible in 40 days, pray for hours each days, fast during the daytime, or any number of fake ass spiritual practices I may engage in and complicate my all ready spread thin life and make myself even less effective a partner to my wife, to my friends, and to my congregation.
I fight this urge with the mite of Samson, cause that’s how I roll. I like to scourge myself physically and mentally so that I may find my place among the elected and enter in to the presence of the Most Holy God. I would rather mire myself in hate, self-loathing and guilt, than cloak myself in grace and embrace the freedom in the beauty of being a child of God loved no matter what.
I am really good at reaching for that shit. The holster of despair and the bullets of low self esteem. I am the king of hypocrites and the master dodger of grace and mercy. I deny the flavor of peace within my heart as I demand that peace for my sisters and brothers no matter where they are in their faith journey if they are on a “faith journey” at all.
I am weary of pressures from myself, pressures from the Christian community. I want to try something new this year. No more Jesus ninja action…perhaps I will rock some Jesus slug or not-Jesus action…This year for Lent I am giving up God.
I am going to stop using and abusing God as my drug of choice. I am relinquishing the grip I have on my idea of God. I reject my understanding of faith for these 40 days. I will deny my inclusion in the body of faith. I will no longer pray as I have. I will no longer seek God in my life. I am going to fill those moments of God with moments with nothing.
I am not exactly sure where or to what this shall take me. I hope it will draw me closer to God and farther away from the idea of God that I currently worship. This faith I have now I hope to shed it and put on a coat of faith that shines with the love of God and reeks of the peace of Christ.
For the next 40 days I am giving up God. I am not going to be an atheist. I am putting on an honest coat of agnosticism and suspending my judgment of any manifestation of God. I will cease putting words into Gods mouth and assuming that I know who God is or what God is telling me or anyone else what to do. I am going to let my narrow understanding of God go in hopes that what ever I get in return will be of deeper sense and greater clarity of divine than I began with.