Lent Reflections #3 :Emptying out the bag

I ended my last Lent reflection on Ash Wednesday  with these words;

‘As I sat there on Ash Wednesday with a reminder on my forehead that I am made from dust and will return to dust, I knew that I just wanted to be made well again by Jesus, who doesn’t condemn me. I wanted to be whole again.’

I realised that I want to be well. I want to be whole. I want Jesus to take away the unforgiveness and pain and bitterness I’ve been carrying around for the past two years. I want to uncurl my fingers from around the rocks I want to throw. I want to set down my anger and walk away from what was. 

So what does that look like ? I haven’t been holding actual rocks. I don’t really have a rucksack of ‘dried crap’ on my back.  But to be honest the things I have been metaphorically holding on to feel as horrible as that image.

For 25 months I’ve been keeping track, via social media / websites/ other sources, of what the person who hurt me is doing now. I have held on to some illusion of involvement in his life. I’ve been searching for signs of sorrow or guilt or repentance. I’ve been looking for clues about what his life is like now.

I have tried on countless occasions before to give up the stalking ( let’s call it what it is, and no I’m not proud of it, but I intend to be real here) but I’ve not been able to. I likened it to an addiction and felt that I could quit the habit, but I wasn’t at all successful in my attempts. I kept getting pulled back in to destructive behaviours.

This time it feels different. I ‘quit’ on Shrove Tuesday. I feel as though I finally said to Jesus – ‘ok , I’m ready for the healing, for the medical interventions; do whatever it takes, just make me better‘,  and He’s said, ‘At last ! Thank goodness for that !’ and has come in with all his expertise and skill and love and is doing what I couldn’t do alone.

I am finding that the letting go of that need to know, to have an illusion of involvement, is diminishing the importance of the other and his actions ,in my life. I am losing my desire to know what happens next. I’m sure that is evidence of God’s work in me. 

It’s a little like my relationship with alcohol right now ( yep we’re really getting down to the nitty gritty details). I’ve never drunk much, but I do enjoy wine. However in the past year or so and particularly in the past three or four months I’ve found that even one glass leaves me feeling less well the following day. I keep intending to stop and then friends come over for dinner and bring a bottle, or we go out and I’m offered a glass and I say yes.

I hadn’t had any for a few weeks but last night friends came round. I had a glass. I didn’t feel well today. There was half a bottle left  and I suggested my husband dropped it in to a friend, as I knew I really didn’t want any more. And I thought – that’s like God’s work of bringing wholeness to me spiritually. It’s not been forced upon me, but I’ve reached the conclusion by myself that I don’t want to carry on like this anymore. In the same way as I have realised that the alcohol, even in small amounts, is not beneficial to me, I have also accepted that the desire to know about this other man’s life is harmful to me. I really do believe that is the gentle and gracious work of God.

I wrote last week about the picture my chaplain friend had of Jesus emptying my bag of ‘dried lumps of crap’. He was able to do a little whilst I was running, but once I stopped and sat down and took the bag off  it all could be done much more easily. I’m pretty sure that’s where I’m at now.

On this pilgrimage towards Easter Jesus is lightening my load. 

‘His yoke is easy and His burden is light’. 

I say Yes to that. 


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