“What if Your blessings come through raindrops? What if Your healing comes through tears? What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?” – Laura Story, “Blessings”
This is going to make me lose some of my Catholic street cred, but this is the first year I’m taking Lent seriously.
I know, I know, where the heck have I been for the past 21 years? Well, I’m not going to make any more excuses.
Throughout my college years, and especially this past year, I’ve often caught myself throwing spiritual temper tantrums. It’s odd, because I never really threw tantrums as a kid; one look from my dad squashed all thought of rebellion. Yet here I was, fighting my Heavenly Father as He tried to draw me closer to Him, to call me to a deeper understanding of my faith, to help me be satisfied with His love before anyone else’s. This last point has kept me from a deeper relationship with God for a long time. I’ve been single for about six months now, and I don’t think I ever fully healed from my last breakup. It sounds backwards; why wouldn’t I want to get over it and move on?
The truth is, I have wanted to move on. I just haven’t allowed myself to.
Our culture has a hostile attitude toward grief of all kinds: breakups, death, illness, divorce, financial troubles, loss of a job, etc. We’re given a grace period of two or three weeks before we begin to hear silent remarks of “That was ages ago! Why are you still crying over it? Can’t you just move on?” Anyone who has ever been through grief knows that these things don’t just vanish in two weeks. A scent, a look, a thought will trigger a memory months, years or even decades later. Bottling it all up does no one any good. So this Lenten season, I am allowing myself to heal, to grieve, to run into Jesus’ arms and find rest.
I stumbled upon Katherine Becker’s book “The Dating Fast” while browsing through Catholic articles on the Interwebs one night. I’m sure there are other types of dating fasts out there, but Becker’s is a 40-day devotional about healing from past relationships, building a deeper relationship with Jesus, and rediscovering God’s true plan for love and marriage. Oh, and by the way, no dating, no crushing, for 40 days. I’m serious. I ordered the book from Amazon and it came in on Valentine’s Day — too perfect, right? So for the next 40 days, I’ll be reflecting at random intervals about what Jesus has been revealing to me and how I’ve grown.
Day 1: “Love is patient, love is kind, yadayadayada” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Ah, the classic wedding passage. I admit that I rolled my eyes when I saw this as my first reading. Wasn’t I supposed to turn away from taking BuzzFeed wedding quizzes and focus on God? But as I reread it slowly, I realized that the passage is not just a bunch of rules about how two married people should love each other; it’s a reflection of how God loves us. Becker’s reflections suggested replacing the word “Love” with “God.” “God is patient. God is kind, etc.” This is how God loves each and every one of us, even if we are not patient and kind and loving to Him or to others.
But I was still frustrated. I didn’t know how to let Jesus love me. Jesus couldn’t take me out to dinner and give me a big hug and kiss at the end of a rough day. How could I be satisfied with just His love if He was up in Heaven and I was stuck down here? I finally said, “Jesus, You need to show me how much You love me, because I can’t see it.”
When I left my apartment to go to my first class, it was snowing. I felt the snowflakes hitting my cheeks and lips, and I imagined they were little kisses from Jesus. I know, I’m so corny. But Jesus kept showing me little ways He could love me, through a stranger who held the door open for me, or a classmate who ran to get me paper towels after I had spilled my coffee. Of course, I also received His love at Ash Wednesday Mass, through ashes, Communion and the faces of my beloved community.
I wouldn’t call today the best day ever: I took a grueling Italian midterm, snapped at one of my colleagues, and dragged my feet on answering emails. But through it all, Jesus made my day better. He’s not stuck up there in Heaven; He is with us, always. He is ever-vigil, always scheming new ways to show us how much He loves us. He wants to show every single woman how beautiful and loved she is; He’s just waiting on your “Yes” to His love.
How are you preparing for Easter during the season of Lent? Tell me in the comments!
For more information on Katherine Becker and “The Dating Fast”, please visit www.thedatingfast.com.