What I gave up for Lent…

 

Absolutely, positively…

 

NOTHING.

 

There. I said it.  I tearfully admitted this to a precious new friend, Ashlie, at the retreat I attended two weekends ago. It felt like a grand (and awful) confession.

 

BUT IT WASN’T.

 

It doesn’t need to be, even though it nags and haunts me certain moments throughout this forty day period prior to Easter.

I want to have these “holy” things to commemorate my relationship with the Lord. How could I pass up this opportunity? WHY did I abandon such a simple (or not so simple) spiritual challenge? Why do I even HAVE to feel guilty?

Is this GUILT for sacrificing NOTHING when HE SACRIFICED ALL pleasing to him? Is it truly what He wants for me? Do you suffer from the same? Do you? OR do you have this all figured out, maybe for at least this year? Tell me, please! I’m a curious sort.
And then I am reminded:

 

“It is well to have specifically holy places, and things, and days, for, without these focal points or reminders, the belief that is holy and “big with God” will soon dwindle into a mere sentiment.”

(C.S. Lewis)

 

Celebrations and places and things are wonderful and pleasing and helpful. But when they come to be THIS for me, or for you, what should we do about it?

 

For the past two weeks, I’ve prayed. PRAYED my heart out to the Lord.

 

For, yes, NOTHING. That is what I gave up…and do you know why? As I poured out my thoughts to this new, sweet, and gracious friend, she was the one to explain it to me.

 

I feel absolutely,

positively

EMPTY.

And it was time (if it was His time…I hope it is the time) for the Lord to fill me up. She said it more eloquently than I am writing it here, mind you. And ever since then, I’ve thought about her words of wisdom and sweet offerings of encouragement.

She was right. I feel empty.

I have nothing left. I didn’t feel like I could give up a single thing.

This past year brought valley upon valley and mountain upon mountain. In my state of severe fatigue, I lost touch with friends and with the concept of “social life.” Reading became a chore rather than remaining a beloved, necessary hobby. After getting one or two pages into a book, I’d have to set it relunctantly aside. It was a different language and my brain couldn’t handle this new language. This process exacerbated whatever difficulty I already had homeschooling my children from a neck injury, but I pushed through, growing emptier with each day. What else could I do? I struggled with writing, being unable to write what I wanted to write for just as long or longer. I grieved the loss of my beloved cat of fifteen years. Two months later in December, on the day before my birthday, my BELOVED grandmother passed through Heaven’s gates. Physical pain hindered me from caring for my home and family, school and social activities the way I expected and desired. I stopped playing the piano or keyboard at church. Limitations shoved me into my living room chair for weeks…months. Expectations shoved me into acceptance, but I clung to my trust in the Lord despite what seemed to be draining from my life.

 

Empty. Barren. NOTHING.

LORD, I have NOTHING left. Don’t you hear me? But, Lent?

 

And through the waiting and the silence I think about that emptiness I feel. It is real but is that REALLY who I am?

A woman with nothing?

 

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

 

As I ponder how I am coming to the Lord to celebrate His resurrection, I know I am empty…empty still.

 

BUT HE CAN FILL ME.  HE IS ALL I NEED.

 

photo(17)

 

I want to expect great things this Easter, for what He has done for me makes this NOTHING of mine disappear. He’s covered it. His death, blood, and then life is greater than this feeling I have.

 

So what do I give? In my frail, human mind, I have nothing to spare. But truly, He’s given ME all I need. A home, my family, nourishment, warmth, joy. But I can’t discount what I’ve been through. These days of “taking away” have been real and raw but His LOVE covers the mess that is there, the barrenness and desolation of my heart.

 

I cry, “Empty!”

He answers.

 

WHAT DO I GIVE?

 

I give him MY ALL. I give him this feeling of immeasurable unworthiness. I give absolutely everything EVEN IF IT IS NOTHING (even if it is nothing) because that is my deepest desire.

Thank you, Jesus.

Fill my cup.

 

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~Psalm 16:11

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “What I gave up for Lent…

  1. You have written with such honesty which, I am sure, echoes the hearts of many. Being filled is quite better than being empty; I think I see you saying that being empty of ourselves opens the door to being filled with His joy and purpose…that is, the emptiness is not necessarily what I give up from my routine or desires, but that I give up what truly counts, my heart and that continually.

    I am intrigued that you used this verse: You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. ~Psalm 16:11 for it is a centerpiece of my Easter sermon about what the open tomb opens for us. As I read this earlier in the week I saw that “make known” refers to the past; “fill me” indicated the present; and “eternal pleasures” certainly tells of hope for the future. The Resurrections opens us to His Presence, His Power, and His Peace.

    BTW, the Philippians verse fits it quite well with what you have written. Good move!!

    LTTS

  2. Just a few months ago this woman wasn’t able to write perhaps, but I would have to say her talent has not a bit been lost! You’re back in a big way. Once again your honesty is still so inspiring to me. I truly believe we can inspire a thousand people with just one honest comment over speaking endlessly with a tongue that reeks of hypocrisy or condemnation. Also, I love that you state you have nothing to give. That IS the beauty of it, isn’t it?! We can do absolutely nothing. It is HE that does everything. I know as soon as I think I can do anything of my own power, I fall flat on my face! Much love, sister 🙂

    • Valerie- I so love you dearly. Thank you for your thoughtful insight on this post. You’re so right- we can inspire a thousand people with just one honest comment. I see that honesty in you through your blog!! I don’t think we can ever know how our honesty affects others…including our own children! I am thankful for those who can keep me accountable, that’s for sure!

  3. oh friend, when I saw that you had written again, I quickly hurried over to read your heart. Oh my goodness. What a beautiful sharing of truth.
    Lent has not been a tradition that I was primarily familiar with until last year so its been a learning curve for me. But this year i’ve struggled with giving something up and really turning my heart to what he has done for me and what really i have to give him. I was feeling very dissatisfied with my Lent contribution today when i realized it really had nothing to do with what i have done for him, but more what HE has done for me. thank your that reminder dear Amy. thank you.

    • My sweet friend, I pray your heart is light today. It’s amazing to see how we are in this together and feel so similarly…It’s even more amazing that the Lord finds what we need and reveals it to us in a mysterious way. God bless you!

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