As Lent is nearing a close, the things I contemplate every Lent come closer to the surface. Lent begins with the reminder of our own mortality, and with that comes the reminder that not everything will be going according to the plan that we have set.
It really is a little ironic that Lent is my favorite liturgical season. I am a stickler for schedule. Consistency and routine are things that I crave. My favorite early Sunday morning ritual is mapping out my week, taking note of what meetings are when, figuring out when to run the miles I need to run, planning almost every minute of every day. Being reminded that I am not in control is not my favorite thing.
And yet, maybe this is why I like Lent. When I picture Lent, I sometimes picture being slammed into a wall. I go about my life the rest of the year pretending like I have got it all together. I arrange my schedule in such a way that I can show off the things that I am good at, giving myself what the fake “I’ve got it all together all the time” Sarah Dianne thinks is enough self-care and recharge time. But then we hit Lent. We hit Lent, and I am forced to remember that this facade is not the truth.
We hit Lent, and my facade begins to crack. It hold up pretty well for awhile, but then the reminder comes that I do not actually have it all together, that nothing I do is going to change the fact that I do not have the control that I like to think that I have.
I do not like that part of Lent. I love the ritual. I love the idea of taking on a discipline that will shape your faith in a new way. I love the worship services that come along with the season. But I do not like facing my lack of control.
I am big on authenticity, or at least the idea of authenticity. I really do believe that Jesus likes real, that Jesus loves the real parts of us and that when we build up these facades and pretend that we are different than we actually are that we are putting distance between ourselves and God. But living into authenticity is ridiculously hard, especially in a world that loves perfection.
This is a world that loves perfection and hates vulnerability. But Lent is all about vulnerability, about shedding the facades that we hide behind and embracing the glorious messes that we all are. If nothing else, Lent forces us to remember that we worship a God who saw pain greater than we can imagine, who was stripped and hung on a cross to die, calling out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We worship a God who was vulnerable.
In my elementary school, the big thing was to wear the bracelets that loudly proclaimed, “WWJD?,” and whenever someone was asked a question about right or wrong, they would proudly show their bracelet.
What would Jesus do? Jesus would live vulnerably. Jesus would not hide behind the “I’ve got it all together and I don’t have feelings that aren’t happy and I know exactly what I’m doing with my life” facade that I do, that many people do.
To live as Jesus did is not to live perfectly, but to live fully and embrace the messed up parts of our lives and move forward, to use our brokenness and vulnerabilities to help those who need help, to stop pretending that we are perfect and instead realize that the cracks in our souls are how the light gets in and also how it gets out.
The wall has been hit. The cracks are showing, and it may not seem very pretty. But there is hope to come. Easter is coming. The sun will rise, and maybe, just maybe, we will be reminded that though living vulnerably is hard and scary, it is also beautiful.