I am one of those people that is deeply grateful for the season of Lent. It comes at just the right time every year … when I’m feeling over the cold winter months and ready for the light and warmth of Spring. It is a time for reflection. For mindfulness. For purpose. And in these final months of winter, I’m in desperate need of all of these things.
Ash Wednesday is two days away, but I’m already getting a start on my Lenten journey. A friend introduced me to this book yesterday and I knew, just from reading the sample, that it is exactly what I need in this season of my life. The Introduction brought me to tears within the first few pages.
This happens to us all at some point. A crisis hits like a storm. Divorce. Death. Loss. Our stories differ, but the fallout is the same: we lose sight of who we are.
We become unrecognizable. And so we struggle to regain our footing, to find our place, to feel secure in who we are.
But no matter how we grab for a sense of significance, it remains out of reach. We’re not sure who we are anymore, and we haven’t a clue where to find the answer.
Sound familiar? What was the last crisis in your life?
Nine years ago, I lost my job as an attorney. I can remember the moment my boss let me go as if it was yesterday. “You’re doing great work, but I just can’t afford to pay you any longer.” I had a wonderful relationship with her, and she will always have a very special place in my heart. Between sobs in her office, as she was calling to get me set up for unemployment compensation, I replied, “I think you just answered a prayer. I think God has been trying to tell me something, and I wasn’t listening. And I think you just provided a big ole’ smack on the head.”
And then, just a few months later, I left my first marriage. Although I knew it was absolutely the right decision, not only for me, but for my ex-husband as well, it was one of the hardest decisions I ever made. Not because of the loss, because if I’m really honest, being out felt more like a huge gain than anything else. But because of the shame. I was only 27 years old, and already I had a big fat “Divorce” next to my name. How would anyone ever trust me again? How would I ever come back from that moment to live a full life?
One of the best things that came from those crises was that I spent intentional time in Bible reading, prayer, and writing. I would sit on my small twin bed in my tiny apartment and read, and write, and cry. I would call out for God to hold me and make his presence known. For the first time in my life, although I was deeply alone, I never felt lonely.
That was the biggest crisis of my life. And yet it was the time when I felt the most rooted in my faith.
Fast forward 8 years. I was feeling wonderfully secure. I had a house that I loved. A one-of-a-kind neighborhood where I always dreamed of living, but never expected that I actually would. I had a community of neighbors and friends that truly taught me how to be a parent. I learned so much there. How to be a neighbor. How to care for people. How to parent simply. How to live purposefully. How to eat (and cook) real food. I never dreamed I would leave.
And then we did. We sold our house, we packed up our things, and we moved over 1000 miles away. We did it because D got a job offer we couldn’t refuse. We did it because Massachusetts is, in so many ways, such a better place to raise children. We did it because we knew it was the right thing for us as a family.
But man … did it shake my world. I realized, when I read this passage yesterday, that this was my most recent crisis. My identity was wrapped up in Grant Park. I was a parent. A wife. A neighbor. I was a friend. A cook. A provider. A creator. And since that moment when we last drove away from that dear beloved house … I am just not sure who I am anymore. I have become unrecognizable. I have struggled to regain my footing. To find my place. To feel secure in who I am.
So this Lent, I’m digging deep to find my roots. I’m going to use this gift of a season to really become rooted once again. I’m going to be intentional about reading, praying, and writing. I’m sure there will be a lot of crying. Maybe even some weeping. But I know, at the end of this journey, I’ll look back and say “That was one of the most formative times in my life.”