Well, I appreciated the feedback that I got with my last post, “The Problem with Lent.” In it, I asked about spiritual droughts, and particularly, what you do when you are in one. Do you press forward with spiritual practices, even when you seem to get nothing from them? Or do you take a break and wait for some sort of desire to return?
Honestly, the only thing I really know how to do is to press forward. And so I did. I actually wrote that post in the middle of last week, and so enough time has passed for me that I am in somewhat of a different place.
I caught up on my One Year Bible, reading all seven days one afternoon, mostly sitting in the library while Anna played some of their games. A lot of people died in Numbers. The last story I read on “catch up” day was the one where the Israelites go and conquer a bunch of people and kill all the men. They bring the women and children back alive, and God asks them why they did that. He then tells them to kill all the women and boys, but to save the virgins for themselves.
To be honest, I didn’t take it well.
First, I imagined if a society did that today, and then I pictured that happening to my own family. Poor Anna! I imagined the scene, the tears, the begging. I wondered about the God who would order such a thing. I was tempted to just stop thinking about it, to run and hide behind Isaiah 55:8-9. Like I mentioned in the comments of the last blog, that just seemed like a cop out to me, though. I have this assumption that God can handle our questions. So I asked Him about it. And I talked to Greg about it. We had a really good talk, in fact. And my friend, Molly, and I discussed it. And our talks really helped me. They didn’t explain everything in the way I wanted, but they allowed me to really think out loud without having to worry about being thought of as a heretic.
And so I kept reading the Bible. I’m in Deuteronomy now.
I also kept dragging myself out of bed, for the most part. I went back to my trusty notebook and pen, and the prayers started flowing again. My prayers are hardly models of beauty and devotion right now…but they are, um…there. It especially helped that this past weekend I got roped into “prayer patrol” for a friend. My impromptu praying responsibilities helped get me back on the right track.
As for serving, I went to serve dinner at Y.E.S. last Tuesday like I always do. My enthusiasm level on the way there was rock bottom, and I was mentally whining about how hard it is to get to know the kids this time around. It was so easy when I was a college student, but now that I have two kids of my own to keep up with while I’m there, it is so much more difficult. I continued to think about my conundrum at the center, while sitting outside on a porch swing and comforting Anna, who had taken a tumble down the bleachers. I had just sent her and Luke to play in my line of sight on the playground, when a sweet little 4th grader named Corina bounded up to me and asked if I could help her with her homework. She acted like we were old friends as I helped her look up the definitions to her vocabulary words and explained to her what “parts of speech” were. After a few minutes, her friend, Cassandra came and joined us on the swing, casually draping herself across my lap to talk to Corina and joke with me. Then, at dinner, I sat by Nyana, Andrea, and Selena, three girls whom I didn’t know, but who were all extremely friendly and kind. It was the first week where I felt like I really got to know some kids. And it came from no effort of my own.
Then last Friday, Greg left for a retreat, which always puts me in what I call “super” mode. My disdain for cleaning and cooking melted away as I whipped the house back into shape in preparation for being a single parent. For the first time in weeks, I enjoyed working.
I didn’t give up my Lenten fast, although I seriously considered it, and I cheated a few times (like last night). I decided that as pathetic as my efforts have been, they are teaching me good lessons about denial and self-control. And since then, God has given me several “boosts” to get through. Twice in the last week, I have been completely ready to throw in the towel and on my way to get Oreos or ice cream or whatever it is I’ve been wanting…only to find when I get there that I have no desire for them. None at all. I had been craving them all day…until I gave up and went to eat them. I really do not understand that.
But the moment I decided that my short-lived drought was officially over was on Monday, when I got home from school and realized that I had about half an hour to kill before I went and picked up Anna. I thought about how to spend my half hour, and it occurred to me that I really wanted to spend it with God. Wanted to. It was a beautiful day and I took my Bible out to the swing…but I didn’t read it. Instead, I just sat and looked at the beautiful nature all around me. My eyes were especially drawn to all those amazing, bright green blades of grass. So many of them…created by God. I looked at them and all around me at God’s creation, and suddenly the stories of Numbers that didn’t make sense to me didn’t seem as important. Even though I still didn’t understand them, I definitely understood the message of, “LOVELOVELOVE” that was coming from every blade of grass and every flower on every bush. And I realized that I never doubted God’s love for the people He created. I don’t understand His methods sometimes, but I don’t doubt His love. I know that probably sounds weak (“I don’t understand the Bible, but the flowers tell me that God loves me, so I’m cool”), but what can I say? It’s what works for me.
This week was supposed to be “drought” week on the blog. Unfortunately for my well-laid plans, it rained. That wasn’t so great for my blogging schedule, but it was good for my soul.