Finding the "Sense" in My Lent

It appears as though I am still looking to be carried through Lent by good feelings and personal success. I'm having a Jane Austen moment. I have twisted my figurative ankle and my "Willoughby" has not come through as I had hoped. (For those of you who are not Jane Austen followers, I apologize for the references. It's a weak analogy anyway, but try to bear with me...)

Thinking wrongly that I am so far removed from my sensibilities regarding the successes of my Lent, I have temporarily lost all sense... and briefly given in to the suffering that accompanies an overly emotional personality. I have been forgetting to give my hopes into the arms of authentic Love and instead, have allowed my feelings to get the better of me. The details are boring. The typical stumbling blocks of life...

We have apparently succumbed to the current year's version of the respiratory flu. My husband was so sick yesterday (his 6th day of illness) that he called me on his cell phone from bed to ask if I would make him dinner... which he could barely touch. I think it is something of a male thing for him to be continually incredulous that his body is not capable of overcoming an illness at his command. He keeps trying to defeat it by sheer will power. If I go to work, my health must consequently improve. And I wait more or less patiently for him to heal (and rescue me from my current domestic charge) and for my own miserable turn to come.

If you don't have a large family, I can't quite describe the affects of a long illness that incubates for any period of time longer than an hour. As soon as one person is starting to improve, another falls victim... and the pattern continues until it seems like half of your life has passed in one illness with making jell-o, running to the store for more medicine, comforting the afflicted, watching the household maintenance fall to pieces, and deliberating constantly over whether or not to wait to call the doctor.

The older kids were unable to sing at the Cathedral downtown this weekend and I'm not altogether confident that they will be ready to sing for a long-anticipated Holy Week. I am not sick yet but I suspect I might be for Easter. Disappointments. Twisted ankles. Expecting consolations. Forgetting to look for true joy.

This is the reason that I do not feel much anxiety about choosing my sacrifices and mortifications for Lent... I just couldn't pick them any better than they fall to me. This Lent has been among the most challenging I can recall in recent years, physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Who needs regularly scheduled mortifications? Let's just go for the big stuff!

I was engaged a few days ago in a serious heart-to-heart with a beloved child (the second time and second child within one week) who was suffering not only through illness, but also through a heavy personal trial. My eyes were puffy with tears and my heart was heavy. Tissues lay all around from sickness and sorrow. There was a moment though when the feelings of hope and joy rose within me as I thought of the coming Easter. I said: This has been a heavy, heavy Lent... I anticipate an equally joyous Easter. 

Now I am looking toward the same Easter with a bit of trepidation. I cannot imagine I will escape this illness and the clock is ticking. I can't help feeling a little down and disappointed about the poor timing. In spite of that, I recall my own words to my children, the ones I am always tossing at them in their disappointments...

...If even our earthly Easters are disappointments, there will be that much more rejoicing when we celebrate our final resurrection with Christ. So much easier to say than to live.

I spent some time this week reading a little Jane Austen (indulging in some light and lovely reading to ease the strain and my shortening temper) and was given some insight into my own weakness and "sensibilities". I am so frequently walking around trying to soothe my own disappointments. Always gauging the events of life against my feelings and preferences and judging the success of any given day by how "happy" I feel about the results... as if I were the center of the universe! Let us all thank the good Lord that I am not.

I want to take this moment to publicly offer sincere gratitude to my loving Father in heaven for every trial of this Lenten season. I have prayed so often for the protection and sanctification of my family. These moments of trial are nothing but a direct answer to those prayers. If things ever went according to my plans, we'd be sunk. God has always attended to the needs of my family. He has even indulged my silly sensibilities many times. And Easter will be glorious, with or without my input or feelings when the day comes. Thanks be to God!

Posted on March 21, 2013 and filed under "Lent", "spiritual life".