I’m not really a lent-kind-of-gal. It hasn’t really been something I’ve intentionally participated in before. Though I was most inspired a few years ago by a friend who gave up using a fork for lent. Who wouldn’t be inspired by that kind of creativity?
But this year, our lifegroup is looking for ways to be more intentional, and I figured lent could be a good way for me to be intentional – in the mantra of Kimmy Schmidt, I can do anything for ten seconds at a time, right?
So this text exchange happened this morning:
Husband: I’m giving up coffee for Lent.
Me: I’m not sure what to give up.
Me: Lol if only I knew how.
I then turned to my girlfriends via text to laugh about the idea – I mean, how “cute” that my husband would come up with something like that for me to give up. I was gunning for something more along the lines of “stomach fat”. Honestly, I can imagine a lot of spiritual health and growth in my world if I gave up some of that for Lent this year.
But I couldn’t deny what husband knows: I wake up with anxiety. I go to sleep with anxiety. I call it ‘being responsible.’ When I’m feeling fancy, I call it being a ‘multipotentialite’.
So I reached out to my girls to joke … “anyone know how a girl can give up anxiety for lent?” [insert hearty chuckle or laug-til-you-cry emoji].
As soon as I hit send, I thought “oh crap, there’s totally a recipe for that in Scripture.” Phil. 4:6-7 immediately came to mind.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And not surprisingly, the first friend to respond also issued an “ah crap, I just asked God what he wanted me to give up.”
So began this whole thread of us putting our anxiety-ridden-hot-mess-selves into the text-o-sphere with statements like:
“Does anyone know anyone who doesn’t worry?”
“I pray and pray but seems like I just get worse and worse. Social anxieties, depression – I mean, how do I not worry about EVERYTHING?”
“It sounds impossible … but what if it’s not?”
And with a holy crap, I knew that my jokester-man had hit a very big nail on the head. And that I wasn’t alone. And that this year, I am giving up Anxiety for Lent.
Instantly, I was filled with anxiety ABOUT giving up anxiety. I mean, how does one DO THAT!? I know it with my head … I memorized Phil. 4 many moons ago … and I’ve experienced “the peace that passes understanding” in various and distinct moments. And it’s powerful.
But I’d be lying if I said that that kind of peace is a lifestyle.
And I’m not satisfied with treating Scripture like it’s “a nice idea”, even though that’s my very first response when I read a verse like “Don’t be anxious about tomorrow … “
OF COURSE I’M ANXIOUS ABOUT TOMORROW! I mean, has anyone missed who just won the New Hampshire primaries!?
And also … there’s these pesky things called jobs … and dreams … and new babies due any minute (not mine) … and babies just born on drugs (also not mine!) … and new businesses … and grocery shopping … and laundry … and the losing of the stomach-fat thing … and getting the dishwasher fixed … and ALL THE THINGS.
Sometimes I feel a bit like Michele Pfiefer (really, I’ve always wanted to say that – sadly, this is the only part of me that can say it honestly) … in her hot-mess-moment with George Clooney in ‘One Fine Day’ (yep, throwing it way back here). ‘Melanie’ tells ‘Jack’ that she’s got all these balls in the air … and that if she slows down, or misses a step, or relies on someone else … the balls will drop. Jack is constantly after her to just admit she can’t do it all alone. This scene always plays in my mind when I hear someone say I don’t need to worry, or don’t need to feel responsible, or don’t need to think the buck stops with me, or can let a ball drop:
All right. Now say, “I can’t do
everything on my own.”
You can’t say it.
Sure I can, just as long as you
realize that it won’t be true.
Okay. I can’t do everything alone.
Even though my daily activities, year
after year, immediately contradict what
I just said.
This idea of an anxiety-free-life … you guys, I treat it like it’s just that, an IDEA – a nice idea, but one that I can only say as long as you know it won’t be true. And I can say that I can’t do it all, that I’m not responsible for it all, but my anxiety immediately contradicts that.
Still, Scripture talks about this anxiety-free lifestyle like it’s real. And I am one of the beloved extremists who believes that Scripture is God’s word – that it is living, active, and does not return void. And I don’t believe that I need any other trick or practice or yoga-pose to unlock it’s power. So how do I reconcile these two things? This IDEAL of God’s Word saying “do not be anxious”, and my very REAL life where anxiety is pretty much a bestie, albeit an obnoxious one.
Well, I don’t know. I don’t know how to give up Anxiety for Lent. But I dug into Scripture this morning and I’m trying to hear what it has to say about it. And to hear it in such a way that I believe it. And to hear it in such a way that it translates to action. That it can be something I can ACTUALLY DO.
Maybe one of the rythyms of Lent is that it’s different to look ahead 40 days and say “I’m going to try to give THIS up for THIS long”, as opposed to feeling overwhelmed by giving something up forever … even something that’s bad for you.
So as the weeks of Lent unfold, I’ll be digging into Scripture, hearing what it has to say about anxiety, and doing my best to share here what I find without preaching to anyone (including myself) (though, side-rant, when did preaching become a bad thing?).
I’m giving up Anxiety for Lent. It sounds impossible … But what if it’s not?