Yesterday, without realizing it, I dressed completely in Mardi Gras colors. I literally didn't realize it when I put on the dress of purple and gold and green and my gold booties. I didn't realize it until my colleague said, "Hey, I like your Mardi Gras dress."
My joke was that I've been making seasonally specific content for so long that I do it in my sleep. Even with what I wear. Insert hashtag.
I do some things because they are part of me by now. That's part of why I'll get my ashes this morning. But not all of it.
It struck me this morning that this is my 40th Lent. 40 days of Lent. I'm beyond giving up chocolate or Facebook. This Lent, I'm marking the year since I gave up what I thought was my biggest enemy -- alcohol. So maybe this is my first Lent to be fully present in a long time.
Lent is not just a symbolic thing -- it's a call for an actual spiritual journey. There's no coincidence I'm waking up to its reality now. But there are still plenty of distractions that can knock me off my path. A perfect pilgrim I am not.
At 40, the start Lent unfolds with another prayer for surrender. I say, "You got me, God. Now what?"
Many of us talk about surrender when we make the decision to remove the things that were killing us physically and spiritually. This surrender is not a one time decision -- it's an every day and sometimes every hour decision. It comes with a throbbing head at first when it's about removing chardonnay. It is good practice for what will come next, 1000 forms of surrender to meet your 1000 forms of fear.
At 40, my 40, surrender comes when I wake up in the morning with thoughts racing through my head, and instead of laying there scrolling through Instagram, getting out of bed to pray. It comes when, driving from my son's therapist's office, praying for guidance to make the right decision. It comes when, uncomfortable in physical pain during the day, feeling it. Not numbing it.
My surrender does not come easily. It doesn't come easily when the impulse is to fix things -- my parents' health problems, the unkind way one neighbor has treated another. The unkind way I've been treated myself.
Sometimes I do not surrender and instead cry in my car. So I pray for more, and the discernment to know when to keep going, and when to back off. When to fight, and when to know that some fights are more than my human abilities.
At 40, surrendering is not beating myself up for what I see in the dressing room mirror, and tucking myself into a bath every night, letting the knots in my back be soothed by the hot water. Trusting that I'm exactly where I need to be. And praying that I be a vessel for whatever He wants me to do.
Damn that's harder than giving up chocolate. Or alcohol. Or anything. And it's exactly what we're called to do.