Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Anticipating Next Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is one week from today (and though I'm formerly a Baptist, I'm really looking forward to it). It’s late this year, which I like. Mainly because that means Easter is later, and I love a warm, sunny Easter—but also because I like a longer break after Christmas. I like that chance to regroup and get things back to normal.

It seems like most families with school age kids experience something similarly unpleasant in January and February. Kids are tired of being cooped up inside, and they’re tired of school. The excitement of a new school year and then of the holidays is all past, and it’s a long haul ahead till summer. Moms feel the same--especially if they homeschool. The lack of sunlight affects many of us. We’re all crabby and irritable with one another. So as things get “back to normal” after the holidays, that’s where I find myself each year—in a rather sinful rut.

[Tangent (since, as I have mentioned before, I’m such a practical gal): One thing that has really helped me this year is starting a new interest—this blog! I think in the future I may do something different and new every January. You might want to think about it for next year. It’s a good time of year to take that oil painting class, sew that Easter dress or buy a new cookbook.]

So, back in the sinful rut. Badly needing Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is a service where we are reminded that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. It is the ultimate humbling, if we are willing to accept it. Our pride doesn’t want to admit we are nothing; it wants to cling in self-righteousness to our own achievements. But if we want to be raised up with Christ, then we must first humble ourselves. We must admit that without Him, we are nothing. Beth Moore, in her Bible study Breaking Free, says that she makes it a point to confess pride and self-sufficiency daily. It is the point of daily confession in liturgical traditions. But Ash Wednesday is a service set aside for believers to celebrate their identity as frail, weak, mortal, created beings. It is a profound humbling.

Celebrate our weakness?? One of my favorite Scriptures is Psalm 103:14: “He knows our frame; He knows that we are but dust.” I hold up a strong exterior before the world. I look capable, confident, happy, “together.” But God knows my weak interior—and I find comfort in being known. I find peace in accepting my weaknesses—instead of rejecting them as I strive for perfection in my life. (Yes, I am a recovering perfectionist.) It is a relief to acknowledge my limitations—of time, of energy, of circumstances. God knows the weakness of my frame, He knows I am dust, and yet He loves me and wants me to lean on him for support. I don’t have to be my own strength. (So why do I try, so often?)

Ash Wednesday celebrates my weakness and dependence on God. And He never appears bigger and stronger than when I am feeling small and weak. It is good to be humbled and contrite before him, sure of his grace and his mercy—and his help!

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