I was checking in with a friend the other day who had given up beer for Lent. “Every year I say I’m not going to do it, and then like a dummy I go and do it again.” I commiserated with him, sharing that I had a similar feeling about committing to writing a daily blog for Lent. Who thought that was a good idea? Oh wait, that was me. Still, it’s good to be almost halfway home.
All over the world, people have made sacrifices for Lent. In some cases, it’s about what they gave up, and in others it’s something we take on. I chose to take on the task of writing this daily blog, knowing from experience that there would be days when I simply would not feel like writing, some days when I simply could not write, and other days when the words effortlessly flow from my mind and heart. That is not today. Today I am challenged by exhaustion and ennui. Nevertheless, I must go forward.
Today was one of those days in which I barely had time between meetings to take a deep breath. Mama said there’ll be days like this, after all. After a day of meetings, the last thing I felt like doing was writing a blog post. I sat staring at the blinking cursor of death for several minutes before I started writing. There are time when, whether we want to or not, whether we think we’re able or not, we simply have to put one foot in front of the other and move forward. I think about the things on my to-do list, that seems to be growing rather than diminishing, and I get exhausted. How on earth am I going to get all this stuff done, I ask myself, and find I don’t have an answer.
All around are examples of people who push through their exhaustion and other physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual blocks to keep doing the things that must be done. When I think about people like medical professionals, first responders, combat troops, and others, my exhaustion seems mild by comparison. It is not to diminish my own exhaustion, but to acknowledge that there are others working just as hard or harder than I am, often without complaint.
Jesus must’ve had days when he was utterly exhausted. Preaching, teaching, healing people, and performing other miracles had to have taken a toll on his mental and physical being. He was, after all, a man on a mission, who was keenly aware that his days were numbered. He had to keep going. It does a make me wonder what is in my life that compels me to push through and do what needs to be done. Do I have a compelling mission that drives me forward? If I don’t, perhaps I should seek one out.
This journey of 40 days challenges us to make sacrifices and to learn from the experiences. Giving something up that is difficult means that every time we would normally reach for that thing or go do that activity or take on that project, we can reflect on the sacrifices and suffering of others. Our own relatively small sacrifice represents part of a much larger, collective sacrifice in commemoration of the season.
I am relieved to be almost halfway home. I will still struggle at times to put my words together, but I know that my challenges, my suffering puts me in the company of millions of other people who observe this season. That awareness gives me comfort, and will do so in the days ahead when my words fail me. And so it goes.