It was about four years ago that I decided to take my practice of spiritual writing up a notch and to dedicate myself to writing a post each day during Lent.
How that season played out was not what I expected. I assumed I would write my simple little devotions and thoughts–and a handful would read them. But I didn’t expect that one post would create so much drama and conflict in my life.
In those four years since I have learned so very much more about myself, about God, and about my relationship with God.
But I have also felt heartbreak like I never knew was possible.
One would think that heartbreak might be a bad thing… and in many ways (one of which I will address in a moment) it did. But mostly the heartbreak forced me into a place where I had to trust in God so much more than I ever had before.
By facing the heartbreak day-after-day, having to seek out the signs of a Living God still pulsing under the surface, searching for the beauty in an ugly moment, reminded me that God is still more powerful than all the hate and hurt and suffering in the world. Each day, each new moment of heartbreak, was another opportunity for the Spirit to rise up like a phoenix from the ashes and catch me up in the whirlwind of the Spirit’s movement.
So, as I approach this new Lenten season–the last I will be spending in this particular town–I find myself thinking about the first Lenten season I spent here and how much I’ve change and grown over the years. For the most part, its been for the better, I think. I’m more certain of who I am as a beloved Child of God. I’m more certain about my calling and what direction it is taking me. I’m more certain that God has called me to be in ministry to the marginalized and disenfranchised–particularly the LGBTQ+ community.
Yet, as I mentioned, there have been some not-so-positive effects of heartbreak and I have to tackle those and reclaim them in my own life.
Somewhere along the way, I let go of one of my most cherished spiritual disciplines: writing. It wasn’t just that I stopped writing publicly… I stopped journaling and creating in general. It was as if the greatest outlet I’d had since childhood to pour our my soul to God had been stolen away and beaten to a pulp.
A couple of weeks ago, though, I had a strange dream–most of the details I won’t bore you with… but as it ended I came face-to-face with an old college professor who has since passed away, Dr. Richards. He was also a priest and a friend with whom I stayed in contact until he died. In this dream he asked me point-blank what happens to my blog when I don’t update it. I confessed that I haven’t been updating it because every word I type is burdened by depression and anxiety about how people will receive it, what their reaction will be, or how they’ll treat me. To this, Dr. Richards simply said, “You’ve just got to write it one word at a time until you get it all out.”
So, here I am. I’ve come full-circle to a brand new Lent. Once again I’m at crossroads in my life and I’m wandering out into the wilderness to pray to God for these forty days and forty nights… and I’m going to do it one word at a time.