I heard a new take on the Christian season of Lent the other day.
Lent is the season that Christians observe as the pre-Easter "fast" - to most I know, this means to give something up: a creature comfort, food, luxury or some other secular thing that would be considered beyond necessity.
Here's what I heard that - to my way of thinking - is a much different consideration.
The Son of Man was led to a desolate, dark and empty place to fast for 40 days. During this time, the Evil One (call him the Devil, Satan, whatever...) continually tempted him with wealth, power and ackowledgement. This was a difficult place to be in - a place of being tested.
We all have our own "desert" - the dark place where we often dare not go. A place of discomfort, uneasy feelings or fear or hate. It was asked of me "What is it you hate the most about yourself?" The man who asked this question revealed to me that the thing he hated most about himself was that he feared of confrontation. He was afraid to "stand up for himself". I found it odd because the man in question was an Anglican priest. Here's a man who has declared publically that he has this moral code, his beliefs that he will defend to the end.
Am I to believe that the same man who will stand by what many might call "abstract" beliefs - believing in what can not be so easily "proven", but what must be "believed" on the basis of faith - finds it difficult to defend HIMSELF? Are your beliefs not a large part of YOURSELF?
Maybe he's afraid of a physical confrontation.
Anyway, the point he made was this: He said "To get from A to C, you must pass through B." A being where you are, C being where you want to be and B being what you have to go through to get there. He said "B is the desert. Your desert. That place that's dark, desolate and ugly." His recommendation wasn't that we give anything up, but rather that we take the 40 days of Lent to explore our desert. Perhaps he knows something I don't yet - perhaps we WILL give something up in this process of exploration. Perhaps we'll give up the fear.
40 days is a long time to face your fears, I figure. However, I have discovered on occasion that once you face your fears, you can deal with them. You deal with them and somehow they fade, they become manageable or they disappear all together.
So here I am in my mid 30s, and what timing. I'm facing fear. Fear of failure, fear of success (odd, isn't it!?)fear of rejection. It's all in there - a whole mix of emotions. So now this man comes along and says "Take the next 40 days to face your fears!"
I must be making some headway. All day yesterday I had this anxious feeling - a feeling of uncertainty, a feeling of fear. There's somthing up. I'm beginning to uncover something. The frustrating part is that I'm not sure just what. Or maybe I do know and I'm just not ready to throw back the cover and reveal it.
I'll keep you posted on this over the next... 38 days or so!