So it’s late and I should totally be getting ready for bed and work tomorrow. That’s the thing about weekends, you can’t wait for them to come but once here they disappear with a flash. I’ve often wondered the older I get if that feeling would ever go away, much like children think the days last FOR-EEEEEEEEEEVER while we see the months just flyin’ by. But I think not. Weekends are like that I suppose. Take this one for instance. Friday night after work I went home, spent some time with my son finishing up our Yu-gi-oh card game we’d started the other night, fixed dinner and then I got together with some friends and role-played till about 1:30 in the morning or so. Saturday I spent the day cleaning up my house and that evening I had about 12 people over for a game night, full of fun, food and board games which lasted till about 1am again, then a friend and I stayed up till about 3 watching a movie. Sunday brought church, potluck (love our food!), then home to catch up on laundry and other cleaning up from Saturday, then roller-skating for about 90 minutes then home once more to get the kiddo ready for bed and then I settled in to watch a movie. (Have I mentioned I really really like watching movies?) And then this…
Where does my time go?
My son wanted to have someone over this week to come visit and as I started looking through my calender of this week it started looking something a bit like this –
Mon – Work, cook/clean, free rest of evening
Tues – Work, cook, roller-skating
Wed – Work, cook, Bible Study
Thurs – Work, cook, help at church with setting up rummage sale for sending our kids to summer church camp
Fri – Work, pick up drive-through, Game night with my friends
Sat – …..getting ready for my second IVLD day, but nothing else yet…
And I thought how amazing it was that I was the one so busy, not him. Normally it’s the parents shuttling their children around, but this time it’s me. But during this season of Lent we are supposed to spend the time in prayer and meditation. Asking for forgiveness of our sins and spending time repenting. This is a time of preparation, of getting ready to celebrate the miracle that was Easter. But it has to start in the wilderness…away from all our business and the responsibilities of our lives. One thing I found out this year as I was looking up some scriptures for church today was that the whole celebration of Lent arose from the scriptures in the Gospels of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before he began his ministry. It was a time of preparation for him as well. If Jesus needed such a time before he could go out and minister to the world around him, what does that tell us today about how important taking time away is?
And yet, can we do it voluntarily? I celebrate my Involuntary Liberation Day the first Saturday of every March. It’s to commemorate the day my ex-wife left me and I was liberated from the shadows of the man I was. It’s not a celebration of my marriage ending, nor is it a celebration of the fact that she’s gone. That’s the involuntary part. I didn’t want it to end. But WHEN it (my marriage) ended I was presented with the opportunity to be liberated from the mistakes of my past and the painful habits of a lifetime in a way I never would have dreamed of before. So I celebrate the vista before me. I have spent much of the past two years wandering in this wilderness. Some of it has been my wanderings, other times I have allowed myself to be led. Sometimes I have even managed to hear the voice prompting me in the direction I should be going. It’s all been a part of my desert journey. Moses led the Israelites in the desert for 40 years…not because they didn’t know the way, but because the generation that sinned against God had to pass from the earth before they could enter the promised land. Those who had never known the spirit-crushing weight of slavery would be able to live and flourish in the new land God promised. My spirit has been wandering because the parts of my life that have sinned against God must pass away before I can enter into a new covenant with Him.
I wasn’t sure I was gonna share anything about this here because as open as I’ve been on here before there are still some things I don’t like talking about…and I know some of the people who read this…of course part of it’s my own fault, I really don’t have to have this attached to my Facebook page…but this is too a part of who I am, and part of this is a public declaration of my desire to be made new in Christ’s own image and to become a better father for my son. One of the things I am giving up for Lent is the negative images/thoughts/perceptions I have in my head of my own self-worth and of what women are like.
I struggle liking myself. I have not had a really strong positive self-image since I was a teenager. My experience with dating tainted, in many ways, my perception of myself and of relationships with women. I won’t go into details, but I did not do well in the dating arena and got into situations where the decisions I made had very negative consequences for a number of people. And for most of the past two decades I have not wanted to forgive myself for those mistakes. Hindsight is not always 20/20 and the lens through which I viewed those times because the prism that delinieated who I was, what I was allowed to do, to say and to be. I used the guilt, my guilt, and my shame from that time to build up walls around me and in time they twisted who I wanted to be and I became the kind of person who had to have others around me constantly telling me why I was worthwhile to feel loved. I was a broken and needy soul who hounded others for approval and acceptance because I would not grant it myself. I turned from those who could give it to me in healthy ways and instead indulged in a lifestyle of sex and drinking that was inherantly self-destructive, even as I sought out what I thought was love and acceptance. The arrival of my son saved my life, in so many ways… but it did not uncomplicate it, nor did it suddenly make things all better. Because of the circumstances of his birth and my relationship with his mother, I still struggle some days with how I view him and what my relationship with him should be/can be/will be. But these last few years I have had several wonderful, challenging, compassionate people in my life who have challenged my old way of thinking in ways that I don’t always like, or want to talk about, or even think about in my own head. It has hurt, it has caused me discomfort, examining BOTH the good and the bad actions I’ve done in the past and finding out where the ties are that have bound me down. I don’t claim to know all of them yet, but I am on a path, and as I’m finding them this Lent season, I am letting go…or at least offering them to God, and trying to get out of the way when God takes them. That has been my promise to God and my challenge.
I’ve also been struggling with reshaping my views on women. They aren’t all crazy…well, not mean spirited crazy anyway. 😉
I have been hurt many times by women who saw me as a knight out to save them and then discard when no longer needed. I have held my partners to unrealistic standards of what one person should be responsible for, it was not their place to heal all the hurts in my soul, nor make me into a whole person. I need to do that myself with God’s help, and then if desired I can move slowly into a healthy relationship with someone. But I have lots of trigger points, things that make me nervous, make me mad for no appreciable reason, that all arise from old arguements… I have used and been used by past partners and desire a new way of thinking, living, loving. All this is part of my penitential prayer –
You who are our parent, lover, friend, and companion. You whose love and joy know no bounds. You who run to us with open arms.
I stand before you… broken…torn…ashamed.
I have turned from you, run from you, hide from you. I have screamed at you, thrown myself away. Still you chose to stay close.
I fought you until my strength gave out before the patience of your peace.
Holding me, you took me into the desert.
You walk with me, change me, mold me. Even as the clay of my life screams out in pain and agony at the process I can feel something wonderful happening inside.
I know it’s not me that’s doing it. But you require that we agree… that we invite you in.
I don’t remember everything that came before, weariness sometimes overtakes my mind. But I remember the day I asked you.
I asked you to break me and make me new….and so we have gone to the desert together.
But now Lord, I stand halfway. My scouring is completed for now… the temptations facing me are almost done. Once again, my strength falters, once again weariness and shame press close in.
I beseech thee God, wrap me up in the joy of the life you offer. Flood the wrinkles of my soul with your love. May the peace of You bring balance to the stormy scene inside me.
My journey is not yet done.
I begin this Lent season with me. With my sin. With my repentance. With my desire to turn closer to You. Oh Lord, let us begin, and let it begin with me, that I may find new life in You.