I must confess, as one of my favorite writers Kate Bowler also attests, that I am a big fan of the Lenten season. It is a time in the Christian faith tradition where we meditate on our own frailty, mortality, and frailty.
It is impossible not to feel (in our culture) that we are doing enough. We are required and praised for pushing BEYOND our limits. The Book What if This Were Enough by Heather Havrileseky says it this way, “The notion of pushing your physical limits has attained a religiosity that is pervasive.”
Lent is a giant sigh of relief. I do not have to pretend. Why are we so embarrassed to fully admit how tired we actually are? During Lent, I can lean into the very things I typically shy away from.
When I was diagnosed this past fall with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I was mad. My anger often goes inward, and this was certainly true when I received this diagnosis. I would require more rest and I do not like admitting that sometimes my body craves a nap. I find it hard to explain to people that fatigue is different than tiredness. Fatigue is bone-shattering depletion. It is brain fog that makes me forget to turn off lights or put things away in the right spot. It is eyes so heavy and dizziness and praying that a cup of coffee might at least get me through. Most significantly, fatigue makes me feel weak and unproductive. If I am laying down wrapped in my weighted blanket, then I am not doing. I am being lazy.
However, the season of lent reminds me that we are human. Being human means that the limits our mortal bodies place on us is not something to be ashamed of. Leaning into the mystery, messiness, and frustration of not only having but BE-ING a human body is a gift the Lenten season gives me.
The Lenten season also reminds me in general that it is okay to not be okay!
I’ve heard WAY too many times lately from a bunch of different sources that when we emote over something difficult in our lives we aren’t trusting that God is in control or that he’s working for good. Let me be real clear and real snarky – come on over, I’ve got chocolate, coffee, wine and tissues (the good lotion kind) and I promise not to “theologize” you out of your pain. Promise. When we are knee deep in pain we don’t need the bright side or to feel more guilt that we aren’t faithful enough. We need love. (And the above mentioned goodies).