Ever had a Root Canal?
On the other hand, Lent really doesn't stink. Yes, it can be a somber reflection on the death of Our Lord but it's also a sober reality of the price that was paid for our sin. Lent has come to be my favorite time of year for tending to spiritual growth. I love Lent so why the connection to something so dreadful?
In my case it begins with penance. I tried, OH yes, I tried to "offer it up" as they numbed half of my face (all the way down my throat) and stretched that plastic balloon (or whatever it is) over my mouth. Talk about feeling a little choked out and tied down for 2 hours, listening to that horrid grinding, scraping, and drilling. Sheer torture, I say!
I think God had a good chuckle as I proclaimed that I had made my full Lenten Penance after that;)
Regardless of our penance, Lent is certainly a time when we need something stronger than ourselves to break through our pride and false sense of control. Some of us...ahem...need a bigger knock than others. I suppose I'll take it as a compliment that the Refiner loves me enough to have pity on me to keep working on my weaknesses, rooting out my sin that never fails to keep sprouting. Fasting anyone? Yep, He took care of that one too...Humble Pie is served!
Thankfully, I leaped up and grabbed my Rosary before they started the procedure. I clenched it with white knuckles from beginning to end of the 2 hour ordeal, praying as many Hail Mary's that I could muster up.
All of my hopes and plans to begin Lent "my way" were quickly blown to the wind as I've struggled with tooth pain the week prior to the dreaded root canal and it continues post root canal today. My Lent certainly began (and continues) with prayer...Just not the kind of prayer I had intended. You know, 'quiet' reading somewhere? Nope, didn't happen, nor did my Consecration renewal that I was looking SO forward to. I'm still sad about this one and hard on myself that I should have persevered through the pain...
As I layed in the dental chair with my heart racing from the side effect of the numbing shots, the weakest part of me prayed for trust.
Despite strong faith, my trust must be lacking...I truly needed to trust that God has things under control and I really don't. Surrender, maybe?
Regardless of what we have in mind for prayer, God always sees fit that we are redirected to the prayer that is best for us. Lent is a time to be looking for these directions as we reprioritize or reevaluate our prayer lives. If we pay attention, He always points the way. We may not always like it and sometimes it takes a root canal to see, more clearly, the direction we need to go. I am constantly re-learning the fact that things do not have to be "perfect" or go as we have planned to be GOOD for us.
This must be what God wills for me this Lent...All those things that I had in mind must not have been in the bigger plan...Not an easy thing for me to sink my teeth into (literally). I suppose I needed something more to get my attention, something more that would pull me in closer. Apparently I needed to be reeled in!
Well it worked.
The pain continues in a forceful way and no relief in sight quite yet.
However, Lent continues in a beautiful way. Without going into detail, lets just say that God places amazing opportunities to go beyond ourselves in these circumstances. He presents others who are in greater need than self...Practices of almsgiving have been presented in ways that I could have never planned myself. Any plans that I had prior to Lent are new and not my own. I am grateful beyond words.
Maybe Lent isn't really like a root canal but I do think that a root canal is good analogy of how God can work with us, refining us, sculpting us, making us new, even through our weaknesses...
I am constantly reminded that no matter the size of our daily challenges, amazing grace is there waiting to erupt through the groans of our human trials and pain. In the case of Lent, it has been an epiphany for me that Lent isn't something we do but something we should live. We need only to do one thing here and now and that is to
*Let Go and Live Lent*