My Own Private Genesis
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Then lots of stuff happened. Fast Forward. Then lots and lots of other stuff happened. Fast Forward some more…
…And then God said “Let there be Lent,” and this year for the first time, Danny Leary said “sign me up!” For Danny had just recently become aware of God’s grace and infinite love for us. And it was good.
And Danny wanted to honor the sacrifice that Jesus Christ had made for us. So for forty days and forty nights excluding Sundays, Danny pledged to make three difficult changes of his own. The first was to abstain from eating sweets. The second was to dispense kindness to difficult strangers. And the third was to read the Bible for thirty minutes a day. And armed with this Lenten Action Plan and visions of great victory, Danny set forth to the Church of the Village. And it was there that Pastor Vicki smudged with ashes, a cross onto Danny’s forehead. And Danny began to cry because he knew that this meant that he belonged to God. And it was good. And then God said, “Danny, knock it off. Quit writing in this style it is getting old.”
Hi everyone! Well this Lent thing is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I might have gotten off on the wrong foot. The night before Ash Wednesday, or shall I say Fat Tuesday Night, I bought an Entenmann’s Chocolate Cake to share with me and me. This was around 10 PM. By midnight only ¼ of the cake remained. But it was now officially Ash Wednesday. So I put the rest in the fridge and told my roommate it was his. One hour later, the cake was communicating to me. And then it occurred to me that although I am living in New York, I still have a New Mexico drivers license. And New Mexico is in the Mountain Time Zone. So naturally, it made sense for me to begin Lenten sacrifices at 2 AM Eastern time / Midnight New Mexico time. So I finished the cake. And then from 2 AM EST on… it was sayonara to Little Debbie.
Day two of no sweets fell on Valentine’s Day. The day I refer to as “Hello, My Name Is Eleanor Rigby Day.” And I could not turn to chocolate or cupcakes for comfort. So I did something new. Something I picked up at that place that has the same initials as American Airlines. I prayed to God and I asked Him to please remove my obsession for eating sweets and instead fill me with his love and to hold me tight. And that worked. Until I got to Choir Practice at Church, and our resident Soprano Joanie brought in a huge box of fancy chocolates to share. But I was strong in the Lord.
I was strong in the Lord until Day 5. By Day 5, I felt like I had this thing in the bag. Until I found myself in the grocery store, sampling a stale chocolate cookie. Mid chew, I remembered Lent! And then I turned white as a ghost. And then I spit out what was left in my mouth into a napkin and walked out devastated.
As for my pledge to read the Bible for 30 minutes a day. Well… On day two and three I fell asleep during my reading session. Not sure if those days count. On Day 5, I reacted like a total baby after “cookie-gate” and decided to boycott the Bible altogether. I felt like I had blown this whole thing, the world was over, that I would never be a real Christian or ever be invited to The White House.
And finally for the niceness thing. Showing love to those that illicit the exact opposite action. Let’s just say I utilized the Serenity Prayer a lot.
“God grant me the Serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”
All week, whenever I got annoyed at the slow walker in front of me, that person in the stroller; the Academy for not nominating me; I made a point to try to switch gears. To try to show love and not irritation. I know the point of this is to not be fake. So that is where the Serenity Prayer is helping me. It gets me out of my self-centered head and brings me into my heart where I am more aligned with God. And it makes me laugh at myself for being so grouchy. And then I can make eye-contact and say “good morning” or “Happy Thursday” and mean it. And it works. Usually. But last night I was really challenged with this principle. And the Serenity Prayer did not work.
A stranger reached out to me on Facebook and told me that I was ugly, that I needed to get a life and that he would call me a “has-been” except I was never anything to begin with. These words really stung. I think we can all agree that being called ugly really hurts. I grew up being made fun of and these comments recalled a lot of old feelings for me. I wanted more than anything to defend myself and respond in kind. Feeling like you are on the outside most of your life helps you develop a very sharp tongue. And mine after all these years could cut through iron. But here I was with this great challenge: to respond with love this mean-head. Did I want to? Hellz no. But… I did.
I wrote him back and asked him if he was okay. I told him that although I don’t know him, I apologize if I’ve done or said anything to offend him. To which he replied with more hateful things. Further testing me. And I prayed to God for the right words to say. Against every bone in my body, I apologized once more, told him that I would be deleting him from my page as to no bother him further and that I truly wish him a year full of blessings for 2013. And then I signed my full name and sent the reply.
Was it the right thing to do? Yes. And did I feel better after doing the right thing? Nope.
But I believe that is what this having Faith is all about. Trusting God’s will for me, to do the uncomfortable when it is extremely uncomfortable to do so. And this morning, I do feel better for treating this person who hurt me with kindness. I’ve had some time to get over myself and reflect. Who knows what this person is going through. Here I am lamenting about accidentally chewing on a stale store-bought cookie sample and he may be going through a terminal illness for all we know. Or he may just be a total mean-head. God only knows.
As for cookie-gate, I forgave myself the next morning and got back on the horse for Day 6. It was an honest accident. Isn’t this whole thing about our humanness anyway? If I can show a stranger love and patience, and if God can show me Grace, shouldn’t I do the same for myself sometimes?
As for reading the Bible 30 minutes a day. I have altered that commitment to be 30 minutes a day / or a chapter a day. The point of this was to forge a daily relationship with God that extends beyond prayer. I am in early Genesis. Which I find highly symbolic. Here are a few quick observations so far: God and I share the same political stance on snakes. They are cursed and evil and cannot balance a budget. I have already applied lessons learned from Eve’s mistakes into my life. Remember Day 2 at Choir? I was Eve and Joanie was the Serpent made in the image of a Soprano offering up chocolate. I just said no. God and Nancy Reagan smiled. And finally, does anyone know the mark that God put on Cain so that no one would murder him? Shouldn’t we all be wearing whatever symbol that was? That would cut down on the crime rate significantly.
So there you have it folks. This is where I am at so far. Green, with an open heart and two-hours behind Eastern time. I am taking that cross that Pastor Vicki smudged onto my forehead seriously. I do belong to God. And that is a wonderful thing. Even when it doesn’t seem like it right away.
Thank you for reading. May the Lord Bless you and Keep You. Even YOU, mister Facebook meanie.
And then God read this whole blog entry and said it was more than good! It was Oscar-worthy!