Friday, March 21, 2008

My Easter Story

I grew up Protestant. We mainly protested against Catholics. So, of course, when I finally hit my rebellious years in my twenties, my husband and I were drawn toward Catholicism. It helped we lived (and still live) in a primarily Polish and Italian area, where most people are Catholic. It also helped that Ben's parents were going through a long, yucky divorce that fueled our anger toward what we had grown up with. Oh, and that the church we had become leaders at (young adults Sunday school, teens Sunday school, youth group band leaders, small group leaders, etc.) had become so "Seeker Friendly" we weren't benefiting Spiritually at all. Anyways, after toying with the idea of joining the Catholic church and intermittently attending Mass for a year or two, we finally decided not to join. Mainly because our reason was to spite others (parents included, sorry...), and we realized that was a bad reason to join. We remained churchless for about seven years. We weren't Godless, however, and grew a great deal during this sabbatical. There are a few things that we took, however, from that experience of dabbling in Catholicism.

The biggest lesson I learned was that it is very likely that there are just as many "saved" people in a Catholic mass as there are in a Protestant congregation. Take that either way you want. I didn't realize how many awesome Catholic Christians there are out there. What's nice about them is that they don't have the same annoying hang-ups that we Protestants do, like our tendency to be Pharisaical and judgmental. They have different ones and that was refreshing. I'm only gonna pick on my own kind for now. Overall, I had a good experience, learned to stop hating Catholics for no good reason, recognized some differences that won't keep me from loving my fellow Christians in the Catholic Church, but doesn' t make me want to join them, and finally realized that perhaps everything I grew up with wasn't all that bad after all.

It really took me all this to just say, when someone invited me to do Lent with them last year, I was open to it. Why not? Jesus suffered for 40 days and 40 nights, I can suffer a little in remembrance. I gave up TV during the day. Doesn't sound like much, but being home all day with a little guy when it's too cold to go outside, it was something to me, and I had been feeling a little convicted about watching so much TV. I was religious about it and when Easter came I was surprised to feel actual relief and thankfulness. Such a little sacrifice for 40 days with Jesus' resurrection as a finale was overwhelming. What a humbling reminder of how much I need that grace and forgiveness.

Even more powerful was my experience this year. I had morning sickness when Lent began so I had the sneaky idea that I'd give up desserts and chocolate. I couldn't eat anything sweet anyways! Totally made me sick. Thankfully, my morning sickness went away a couple weeks later, and then I had to tame my overwhelming desire to compensate for the month of sickness by eating everything in sight. If you've read our family blog in the past month or two, you'll see it's filled with tons of recipes and pictures of food. That's how I coped with not being able to eat my sweets, eating everything else that sounded good. I was being pretty strict at first even though my "sacrifice" was pretty broad in scope. Then I heard that many Catholics take Sundays off or just offer a sacrifice of prayer when they "screw up". The idea of grace is a familiar one that I've revelled in for many years now, and since it resonated with me I gave myself a little grace. Sundays I'd have a treat, just not chocolate or cake. Only ice cream or cookies. Not both. I wasn't cheating too badly! OK, occasionally I had to offer up the sacrificial prayer in lieu of being faithful to the fast from sweets. Well, here it is, Easter is upon us, and I am more humbled than ever.

Wednesday I blew it. Not with the sugary stuff, but my temper. About three weeks ago Z drew all over our leather ottoman with ink pen. I panicked, Googled "ink on leather", tried a little hand sanitizer on it, the ink came up but so did the leather's color, I reached for the fancy cleaner kit that came with the couch set and insurance policy for the leather! I called, it doesn't expire until December this year. I didn't even remember we had it! I was so thankful! We completed the claim forms, were totally up front about everything, then Wednesday, I got their response in the mail. They wouldn't help us because of the color loss that happened when I tried to clean it. Now, without rabbit-trailing too much: The area that Z scribbled on is 19.5" x 10" , the area I attempted to clean with a Q-tip is about a half inch square. I was infuriated! I ranted and raged around the house like a mad woman for about a half hour after I called the insurance lady and yelled at her. She was not helpful. Thankfully, I only called Ben in the midst of this and no one else had to suffer from it. I deescalated and told Ben I was going to be OK and even called the lady back and apologized to her for my rudeness. I'd like to blame hormones, I always would like to blame hormones, but I had been sane all day until then.

It just reminded me of how I tried to cut out sweets as a sacrifice to God, then took the first opportunity to rationalize cookies, ice cream, birthday treats, etc. Here I'm supposed to be a new creation in Christ, meaning, I can turn to Him in everything and not lose it like I'm lost. I know where to go, I know what the Bible says to do, and I find every rationalization that fits my circumstances when I need to. What's worse is I'm super proud of myself when I occasionally do things just right (like return kindness for evil).

I sheepishly asked God to rip out all my stingy pride, hateful greed and anything else that keeps me from loving others, knowing His answer might be painful. Right now, I'm just feeling like a wounded soldier that got hurt from running the wrong way. I'd really like to get it all just right, like I did last year for Lent, but I'm ever so grateful for this picture that screams to me of my need for a loving Savior that makes everything just right in spite of me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You Go GIRL!