As we come to Easter I am reminded of something a reader said to Madeleine L’Engle about reading her novel A Wrinkle in Time as a child: “I didn’t understand it, but I knew what it was about.”
Lent + Easter is probably one of the best seasons of the year for me, in terms of spiritual growth. The discipline of fasting and reflecting on Christ’s sacrifice is very necessary for my relationship with God. This Lenten season I’ve been thinking a lot about the past few years of my life, and especially how my health situation impacted them.
When I think about college I have a lot of regrets about everything I missed because I was going home for tests and doctors’ appointments. I had to miss class a lot, and I couldn’t be very involved in campus things because everything required a huge time commitment, often on weekends. Sometimes it was all I could do to go to class and do homework. Mainly, though, I regret the way it affected my relationships, more than missing dances or activities or class. I know that I often seemed antisocial, or was uncaring towards people because I didn’t have the energy, I had to go home for tests, or I was depressed.
I think the depression was/is the worst. It’s something I have to deal with more often than I would like. I regret that I didn’t get to be there for people as much as I wanted to be, and that in my own struggle to deal with my pain and my fear about my health I hurt others, in ways I may never even realize.
Some days I wish that I could do it again, that I could go to college again and surrender my pain to Christ instead of passing it along to the people around me. But I can’t. Unlike Nancy Drew, I don’t have Second Chance do-overs. This is one of those areas again where I have trouble accepting God’s forgiveness for my lack of grace and love.
And I think that’s why I love Lent so much.
Having a car means that I got to go to an Ash Wednesday service for the first time this year, and we read Psalm 103, particularly verses 13-14:
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.”
He remembers that we are dust.
So often I think that somehow God is continually surprised and disappointed by my failure to be all that I should be, but He’s not. He remembers that we are dust. There’s freedom in these verses, freedom from my mad desire to convince God and myself that I’m good enough to earn His love. But He has compassion on me even though He knows that I’m not. He remembers that I am dust.
So here I am, chronically ill, sick with regret, still trying to carry it all on my own. Still passing hurt along instead of relying on Christ. Every morning I wake up. Every morning I am dust. And every morning God’s compassion is renewed.
This is why I love Lent so much. It’s a strong, daily reminder that God loves us while we are dust, that He loves us too much to let us remain dust forever. As Samuel Crossman wrote in his hymn “My Song is Love Unknown”:“My song is love unknown, My Savior’s love to me; Love to the loveless shown, that they might lovely be.”
I don’t understand why God would send His perfect Son to die for me, especially when He knew I would mess it up and be less than He created me to be, over and over again. I can’t comprehend God’s extravagant, undeserved grace, or Jesus’ loving, full-hearted sacrifice. But I am overwhelmed by mercy and gratitude as God restores me, changing me from dust to something lovely by His love.
I don’t understand Easter, but I know what it’s about.
“Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23