When I take all of the things that are listed here and all of the other faults and character defects that plague my being, it is easy to despair. It is easy to throw my hands up and ask “why even try?” It’s enough to make me want to give up and walk away from the world. I’ll admit; when I started this Lenten discipline, I thought that bringing attention to my failings would be a helpful practice. What I should have anticipated, and lack of foresight is another of my weaknesses, is that it ended up being incredibly depressing. I am flawed. I am broken. I am sinful. And do you know what is really depressing? Many of things have haunted me for years and will likely be there for the duration of my earthly sojourn.
What often happens in therapy, good therapy, is reframing. It’s not so much about fixing you, it’s about reframing those things in ourselves that we find problematic, getting at their source, and reframing them in ways that are helpful and can even highlight the positives in our make up. The things that make people stray in a relationship are often times deep longings for belonging and intimacy. The methods of going about them are hurtful, but the impulse is human and actually quite holy. When we can identify these roots within ourselves, most of which can be linked to very human desires for love, affection, security, and happiness, then we can seek out healthier ways of finding those things we need.
The resurrection is a reframing story. We take the evil of the state-sanctioned execution of innocent man and we turn it into a motivator for a life of abundance lived for God and for others. Where death is so evident and obvious, we celebrate that life finds a way. We no longer focus on the torture and the cruelty, but instead turn our attention to sacrifice, service, and love that will give up all for the beloved.
I had another discipline this lent. Every day of Lent I planted something. I planted potatoes and garlic. I planted a sunflower for my son. I planted herbs and wildflowers. I started my seeds for the growing season.
Not every seed I planted made it. Many did though. Each time I wrote about a defect within me I put my hands in the dirt and reminded myself that despite my sins I can still be a conduit for new life and that maybe who I am at my core is a man who plants, cultivates, and nurtures.
At the end of the day, my faults have not stopped me from loving, from caring, from sharing the love that is within me and every time I do those things, new life is fostered. I may do so imperfectly. I may not fully understand all the layers that stand between me and my purist intentions. I will miss the mark again. But it’s never too late to be on the side of life. If nothing else, the resurrection proves that.