dying yet again.

dying yet again“The process of conversion begins with genuine openness to change–to be open to the possibility that just as natural life evolves, so our spiritual life is evolving…. Each time you consent to an enhancement of faith, your world changes and all your relationship have to be adjusted to the new perspective and the new light that has been given you. Our relationship to ourselves, to Jesus Christ, to our neighbor, to the Church–to God–all change. It is the end of the world we have previously known and lived in”  – Thomas Keating

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today is ash wednesday, the beginning of the season of lent. i admit this year, it just came up way too fast & it’s a little hard to believe we’re already here.  right now, i am in the middle of a refuge 4th step group that is working on an inventory, a very painful & soul-searching process.  the 4th step of the 12 steps is:  “made a searching and fearless moral inventory” and step five is: “admitted to God, myself, and someone i trust the exact nature of my wrongs.”  and following that, step 6 is:  “were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.” and step 7 is: “humbly asked God to remove my shortcomings.”  i have done 4th steps before, but never has it coincided with this liturgical season in such an intentional and sort of freaky way.

it’s really good & it’s really hard. a big part of the process is dying to the old to step into something new. 

i’m reminded of this familiar passage.  “for everything there is a season…a time to be born and a time to die. a time to plant and a time to harvest.  a time to kill and a time to heal.  a time to tear down and a time to build up. a time to cry and a time to laugh. a time to grieve and a time to dance.”   ecclesiastes 3:1-4

lent is a season of dying.

dying to the things that are robbing us of life.

dying to the things that continue to do us harm.

dying to the things that separate us from who God really is.

dying to the things that separate us from who we really are.

if you’re like me, i’m not too keen on dying to the unhealthy things that have kept me “living.”  i kind of like my little-strategies-for-living because i am used to them.  they are comfortable.  they are predictable. they are my reflexes, the things i know how to do without even thinking.

i know how to judge others to make myself feel better.

i know how to give, give, give, and receive a little here and there.

i know how to feel insecure, inadequate, and not quite “enough.”

i know how to speak instead of listen.

i know how to keep things in my control.

i don’t have to try very hard to do these things.  they don’t take a lot of effort, they tend to be my first response, my reflex. when i look back at the list i can find all kinds of ways to say “but i’m getting better at it, i am changing, it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be” and that may be true.

but lent is not a season to hide or jouk or jive our way through.

rather, it’s a time for honesty. radical honesty.

for light to shine on dark places. for the dead branches to be pruned off.  for stripping away the things that hinder. for conversion. 

it used to scare me to say things like this out loud.  i also used to believe that because i struggled with these things, that’s all of who i was.  that unless these struggles were “gone”, i wasn’t where i needed to be and God was always annoyed with me.  i am thankful for the healing that has come through embracing paradox.  and grace.  and even though i’m not crazy about my weaknesses, i am indeed grateful for them.  they remind me of my humanity & God’s divinity.  for my need for God’s help & hope in the midst of my real life.

but accepting their reality does not mean i want to stay where i am and have life choked off from me in places it could more freely flow.

this lenten season, that’s what i hope for.

God’s revealing on what needs to die. yet again. yet again. and yet again.

so that i can keep learning to live.

what are you hoping for this lenten season? 

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some of you have already seen some of these posts, but if you haven’t, here are some good resources & thoughts to ponder:

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

12 Comments

  • Kathy,
    Great meditation. Thanks for mentioning my prayers. Are you going to be able to contribute to the Lenten series Easter is Coming: What Do We Hunger and Thirst For?

    Reply
    • thanks christine. yes, i have a post swirling around in my head on that topic and will send the link next week. hope all is well with both of you. peace.

      Reply
  • oh kathy, so good. i really do hate winter and dying and death. i’d rather hide until spring. try and rush to the new, new, new and skip over all the dying and forgetting and letting go. but we can’t really get to the new without the dying and the letting go. this lenten season i don’t want to skip over the dying. i can’t say that i want to exactly embrace it, i just don’t want to hide from it.

    Reply
    • thanks, david. love your thoughts here. see you in a few weeks for voca, yay!

      Reply
  • Oh, this is gorgeous writing – and so.very.true. This is the season for exactly what you have outlined – for dying to ourselves, for conversion….again. And again. Whenever I read your blog, I feel as though I’ve found a kindred spirit in so many ways. Thanks for your ‘fearless moral inventory’ and for writing about it so very well.

    Reply
    • thanks for reading, diana. it is so fun to meet other kindred spirits out here, it is really encouraging. we definitely need to all find ways to connect with each other so we feel less alone. peace to you.

      Reply
  • Yep, it definitely feels like death and the grieving process in my internal world. The metaphorical IV that I am tied to has been pumping my veins full of intense self-hatred toxins for a long time. Too long.. And a part of me feels like I will keel over if it is unplugged, as it has sustained the abilty for me to function. Slowly, I am hoping this season to detox, and begin to literally *feel* good/beautiful/hopeful things flowing freely through my system…

    Reply
    • that is powerful imagery, thanks for sharing. detox sucks, but once more and more of those toxins are released, so much more beauty & hope can flow. love & hope.

      Reply
  • My Dad recently died which has left me without someone to blame for a lot of crappy stuff that happened to me as a child. The truth is, he made amends in the last few years and showed his love for me. I realize it’s so much more kind to love,forgive,pray and need others. It’s exhausting holding on to anger, resentment, unforgiveness, and blame. This Lenten season I want to die to the icky as a friend said and with Jesus help, be a loving servant in this world of His. God bless you Kathy for loving.

    Reply
    • oh irene, i am so sorry to hear of this loss for you. that is so hard, even when we know it’s coming, the reality of it all and the feelings it stirs up. lots of love and hope to you as you grieve & heal & move toward resurrection.

      Reply
  • Hi Kathy,

    I found your blog through Rachel Held Evens. Love your post on ‘dying’. I love finding women in the blogosphere who are helping to pave the way for more women to step into ministry leadership roles, and to encourage us to ‘speak up’. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. 🙂

    Reply
    • thanks for reading & taking time to comment. rachel’s awesome. glad you are here and yes, let’s all keep speaking up and using our voices & passions & gifts & hearts in all kinds of ways that God is calling us to. peace from colorado.

      Reply

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