Letters of Life

Day 26: Failure

Prologue: It took me a long time to decide to post this, possibly one of my last entries about my Lenten experience. Day 26 was, without doubt, my nethermost point of the entire 40-day season, when my spirits were at an ebb, and I was mired in torn and tangled emotions. An event in Day 26 showed up my faults in the harshest light, and as the day progressed, I wondered whether there was any point carrying on in Lent. But the relentless movement of time leaves little opportunity to dwell on past regrets, and our God is a God of the future, not the past. Perhaps the only valid reason for posting this entry is purely archival, a recording of not just a milestone, but one of the biggest lessons I had to learn in my first Lent.

If I don’t post this–the Lesson learned–than all the other Lent posts you’ve been reading would ring hollow, and the last thing I want right now is to come off sounding hypocritical, not just to you, but to myself as well.

March 22nd–I started this quest with the view that it was going to be an endurance run. Endurance runs, I now realize, depend much on preparation and strength-training before the actual event. That there has to be at least several practice runs before you go for the real thing. Well, I didn’t adequately prepare myself for Lent, (like a pre-Lent Lent), and this is what has happened.

Right now, I feel I have allowed a lack of discipline and self-control to over-run me instead and I have failed the course.

What does it matter that it’s Day 26? That it’s past the halfway mark? This overwhelming sense of failure is, at times, more than I can bear; I could not exercise self-restraint in the thing I needed to the most.

And so, God has stepped in and is having me prove how serious I am about my Lenten sacrifices. Lent is not just for show and for my own validation in the eyes of Christians around me. He is asking me to once and for all nail all my cherished sins and secret gods to the cross, where Christ was nailed in deepest pain unimaginable so that I may live.

How ironic that after Day 20, I thought I was on the road to victory. (What victory? Some small thing that I magnified in my mind–like successfully giving up Facebook etc–as if these were worthy goals in His eyes.) I harboured thougths that I was going to coast right to the finish line at Day 40.

Instead, I have lost the things I wanted to earn back during this time. (Please understand my lack of detail here except to say that these would be things to do with the heart and soul, and in the realm of human relationships.)

God in His infinite love, mercy, and wisdom, is not interested in my self-chosen sacrifices. He is more interested in the deeper and self-involved sacrifices–the ones I referred to a month ago as “more than a song.” He’s looking into my heart, I wrote in an earlier post. That is what He requires I bring to the altar. He is seeing through the delusion I made for myself. My sense of failure is heightened by the fact that I have made a mockery of my own determination, and I feel my resolutions have come to nothing.

More than this, I have caused hurt and disappointment to people who never asked for nor deserved it. If I was self-destructing, did the shrapnels have to fly and inflict injury and pain on them too?

I can only ask and hope for forgiveness. Tears won’t change a thing.

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