Lent could not have come at a better time for me this year.  I had had a rough month before Lent, and then had taken some time for self reflection–what was so rough?  Was it external circumstances, or was it something I was contributing?  The month was hard: my frustration levels were rising with my kids, since my kids seemed to be absent-minded, and consequently, routinely disobedient (see “Hibernation”).  I was constantly out of sorts.  I’m sure my company was terrible: I didn’t even like being around myself! By the end of Feb., I was officially depressed.
     What I realized was that, back in Nov. and Dec., I had gotten upset–I felt wronged.  I never really dealt with it.  I just “moved on.”  But as I have mentioned, it is really important for my interior life to live out a habit of forgiveness.  I need to consciously choose to forgive, releasing the hold I have on the one whom I feel wronged by.  If I do not, I become the “kathryn” that I do not really like, the old me that is tense and irritable.  (I’m sorry if you know EXACTLY what I am talking about!:) )
     So this is the domino effect: I feel wronged, and instead of forgiving, I take offense (SIN!).  In being offended, I condescend (SIN!).  That is, I am looking down on the “idiot” (pardon me!) who wronged me.  From this crucial point, my life of faith is destroyed.  I am incompatible with anything humble, gentle, kind, forgiving, tender, thoughtful–anything marked by the Spirit of God has no more place in me.
     In condescending, then, I take on irritation, annoyance, impatience and frustration (SIN!). From here, I can easily lose my faith that God will heal or save or improve anyone (SIN!).  I become my own master, my own boss, and God no longer has “Lordship” in my life–that is, I have lost the sense of surrender that is the cornerstone of the Christian life with God (SIN!).  The final stage on this downward spiral is that I feel stuck with my own sins.  I feel that I cannot be cleansed by God, that by burdens are stuck on me, and there is no way to wash them off (SIN!).  At this point, I am depressed.
     I noticed that in classic Christian style, my “freedom,” my becoming my own master, has been my own enchaining.  It is a horrible, horrible thing for me to lose my sense of surrender to God.  All of that stemmed, though, from the original feeling wronged, and not forgiving.
    Well, in this case, it was not a person I felt wronged by.  It was an institution.  So that is perhaps one reason why it “slipped through” without my noticing.  But as it turns out, I learned, I need to forgive ANYONE and EVERYTHING that I can feel hurt by!
     I realized all this just before Lent started.  Oh, how grateful I was!!!  Now, I could spend all 40 days, forgiving, and tending to that original hurt.  Then, I could address the other layers as necessary.  The daily readings and Lenten practices all make such sense and have such direct impact on me.  In all of it, I feel so much GRACE and HELP and COMPASSION.  I feel that God is ready at hand to help me through forgiveness, and ready to jump back into place as the Shepherd, the one who gently guides me to green pastures.
    And if my kids would become more obedient, I might become more gentle and less frustrated! 🙂   But that is yet to happen! 🙂