Sleep comes a little easier at night if I'm able to dump some of my thoughts onto paper or page before I hit the pillow. The last two nights found me up at 3am, trying to find a pressure release for the mental traffic jam. I couldn't tell if I was tired. I felt like I was on a gallon of Red Bull and a giant bag of Skittles. Awake... but not in a nice way.
I wrote a letter to the ones who bullied my kid off the team and are now are trying to bully her back on because she's their rock solid leader. Oh, you're going to lose every game from now until the end of the season without her talent and leadership? Hmmm... let me tell you in 42 pages why I don't care.
And then I threw it away.
I wrote a blog post about the perils of Christian families involving themselves in modern youth sport culture... but it was a mess because my thoughts just spread like a wildfire. One post? Yeah, the longest post in the history of blogging.
So I deleted it.
I picked up a handful of school papers and a notebook to plan. And I couldn't think. Instead of seeing Latin chapters organized neatly under my hand, I saw every subject and book from this year and next combined swimming before my inner eye. Swimming. And laughing at me.
So I put it down again.
I stood up and looked around for something to clean and saw that everything needed to be cleaned... and decided to go back to bed. I pulled the covers over my head and tried to imagine the organizational charts that I would design the next day.
And I gave it up, remembering the pile of failed organizational charts already collecting in my binder.
I decided to slow down and correct my priorities. I wrote a letter to God in my head. And told him about all of my Lenten goals and failures. Then I started editing. And I knew it was time to stop...
... and pray.
Such unhappy habit that I turn to God most easily in the easy and flowing times but turn away when the pace quickens and stress levels are elevated. Just a moment, Lord... I will give you a call as soon as I have it all under control.
I will myself to return to prayer. I'm frustrated and ashamed because I know that God sees my impatience. He breathes I love you... and I look at the ground and grit my teeth, squeeze my eyes shut and Yeah, yeah... I love you, too. And my mind races and my heart beats with conflict and every thought from every line of every letter and post I don't know how to write is screaming at me. Hand them over, Child, he says. And I grip them tightly to my chest and bend over defensively. My posture reminds me of the funny posture of little children who would rather lay upon their plastic toys than share them.
I gotta go, Lord. I gotta go handle this stuff... figure it out... it's all mine, you know.
It is so easy to let all of the goodness and beauty and joy and peace of Christ just slip away from my grasp. With one foot in the world's camp and one foot in God's, all it takes is one step the wrong way for me to forget His face. And I remember that this is what Lent is for. A stripping down. A humbling. Off with the mask. Goodbye veneer. Revealing the pride and the falseness that I have hidden from myself since last time I bothered to look. Time to put both feet in His camp.
There is nothing new about this moment. How many times have I come to this place with these same thoughts and sorrows? It is not that my life is without joy or sweetness... it is just that true love only ever grows in the shadow of the Cross. I find consolation in the thought that if I was not searching for Him, even a little, that I would not suffer for Him even a little. I just wouldn't bother at all.
And yet here I am again. By the grace of God. Beautiful, beautiful Lent.