Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Giving up and letting go.

It's Fat Tuesday! I celebrated by wishing for a fish sandwich from Wendy's. I'm rather obsessed with them. I learned my wish was granted when the microwave at work stopped working and heating up my soup was no longer possible. YAY! To stay in points, though, I am nixing tonight's hamburger in favor of something lower in points and adding extra broccoli to dinner.

But really, the more important thing that comes up on Mardi Gras and the point of this post - everyone asks 'What are you giving up for Lent?' Well, first it is important to note that I am not actually Catholic. Dh was raised in the church, and when we dated I intended to convert, but the more I learned the more I realized I couldn't do it. There is much I admire about the Catholic faith, but I simply don't agree with large chunks of the theology/dogma and I felt it hypocritical to join if I was lying when I said I believed certain things. But of course, other Christian sects 'celebrate' the rites of the Lenten season too. I don't actually belong to those either. I don't actually attend any church. I have planned to, but after bad experiences, I tend to shy away from organized religion and only attend services during the high points (and then they tend to be at Episcopalian or Catholic churches).

But I do believe in God, and I believe in Christ and I do observe many Lenten rights. I will attend Ash Wednesday services tomorrow and I will participate in giving something up for Lent. Now for me, and I mean no offense, I always thought it was sort of dumb to give up something like candy or soda for Lent. I mean, self-sacrifice is good and it has it's place, but I was always taught that Lent was a time for real, raw, honest reflection on the state of your relationship with God and that sacrifices during Lent were to be about removing that which separated you from God so that you could approach the Easter season with a fresh heart and rededication to God. I've also been thinking about what to add. A very spiritual friend shared a few years ago that she tries to sacrifice something, but often she sacrificed convenience or time to extra services, to extra volunteering, to more prayer or reading Scripture or extra tithing and from that she decided to focus on one thing each Lent that she wished to add to increase her spiritual life. I've always found that a wonderful idea.

And that's the approach I take. I try to honestly examine my life and find what is most blocking my relationship with God and work on getting rid of that. At the same time, I try to add something good back in to fill that void. If it is done right, it becomes habit and ultimately binds you closer to the Lord.

I used to not share what I gave up, because it is so personal and it seems so much like posturing and show. Again, I apologize if I sound judgemental at all, but I think back to college to people who were not religious and who didn't believe in God giving up cursing or drinking for Lent, only to find ways to slip it in. What was the point?

Anyway, I've done a lot of thinking about my relationship with God. I've pushed it away in anger and I've questioned it in bitterness. I have wallowed in both, even against my will. t has only made me loathe myself and be disappointed in myself, it has only hurt or strained relationships as people have had to tiptoe around me or feared upsetting me. I do think much of it is natural and I do not think I have consciously encouraged it, but I have allowed it. And it has not benefitted me.

And I do think that I want to renew a relationship with God. I think my life has been lacking without it. I feel less together, less centered, less purposeful and less happy. I do apologize now if you are reading this and rolling your eyes because this sounds so much like an infomercial for God and Religion and all that jazz. I'm not generally fan of uber-Christianity or in your face spirituality, so I hate to sound that way myself. But I can see where there is a difference and I liked things better when I felt on more sure footing and wasn't carrying around a good deal of unhealthy emotion.

So . . . I'm letting it go. I am giving up my anger over my losses and my bitterness over my losses for Lent. Hopefully forever. Now, this is going to be a little different than your traditional Lenten sacrifice. For one, the Easter bunny better not fucking bring me a basket of it for consumption on Easter morn. But also - I expect to slip and I expect to struggle and I expect that it will not be a smooth course. But I am going to try because I think it will let me have a relationship with God again - after all, I am the one pushing it away because I am angry and hurt. But also, I think I will be a better and happier person and that I will have better and happier relationships for actively working to rid myself of this negativity.

I don't know how this is going to go. I don't know if this will work. But I know I have to try. The past cannot be changed. I cannot undo the ectopic pregnancy and I cannot have my Chickadee back. But I can have happiness for others, I can rejoice with them in their healthy pregnancies. I can look forward to the future with hope and not let my life be ruled by fear. I can love and be loved and that is worth any effort on my part.

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