Ten minutes after putting him to bed, he calls out.
I almost forgot.
A couple days ago I bought my first box of Paczki. I didn't know what they were other than deliciously looking fat, glorious, powdered-sugar goodness. I read up today and learned how it was a way to use up all the sweets - the fruits, the forbidden - during Lent.
I don't usually think much about Lent. I've thought about it before and given up a few things now and then for a day or a half-a-day but I've never really rode out the waves of a forty-day commitment of doing without something I can't imagine doing without. It feels odd and unnecessary and a little contrived and I assumed that was my way of justifying not participating and carrying on.
But then I thought of what it could mean. What if I gave up something, not for the sake of giving it up or learning a new habit, but for the sake of knowing Him more? To take on something that is a little unnatural or sacrificial in feeling? Isn't that the primary focus? To shine a bright spotlight on our busted and broken and depraved? I'm not really sure I want to focus on all that but at the same time, it couldn't possibly hurt to be brought down a few pegs.
I mean, that's assuming I needed to be brought down a few pegs to begin with.
But as I closed the door on my son's room, his sweet, innocent love burning a hole in my selfish heart, all I could think was, "I almost forgot. I almost forgot." Over and over it played.
I know my son loves me. He knows I love him. We're together all the time. We talk. We play. I care for him. I pay attention to him. I help him and encourage him and strive to be all he needs as he needs it. But even though he has a security and a history in his relationship with me, it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough to rely on yesterday's goodnight's or the kisses and hugs from earlier. He had to give more and it bothered him that he had nearly forgotten to give me a little more.
It should bother me that I'm not always in "a little bit more" mode when it comes to God.
As my pastor said so perfectly this week: fixing what's on the outside to look like things are okay when things inside aren't. Isn't that the purpose of Lent? Of fasting? Of cutting out sugar for a month?
To not simply "go without" but to realize where our true needs and fulfillment lies. In Christ. Always in Christ. To realize those idols we all have in our lives. We just don't always realize it. For instance, when I'm stressed it's really easy to rush to the coffee pot or my dark chocolate stash. I just need a cup, I just need a piece, I just need SOMETHING to focus on other than what I'm feeling or stressing about or what is causing anxiety. I'm filling my palm and filling my need with something that is not God. Is dark chocolate and coffee bad (umm, hello, NO!) but when I run to them vs. stopping to talk to God or to drop my knees or fold my hands... then there's a problem.
And there comes a need for some self reflection. Some self deflation. Some dissatisfaction.
A little less of me. A little more for Him.
While I haven't given up a particular food or declared this or that is my "thing" for the next forty days, there is something that has been hugging my heart and so I'm going to run with it. Not to go into extensive detail, but it has to do with making time where I don't feel I have time. I am a very bad phone contact these days. It's the fact that I'm a Mom and the second I get on the phone all you-know-what breaks loose. It's the fact that when I finally get two seconds to myself, the last thing I really want to do is sit on the phone (I usually want to collapse).
And it's kind of a hard pill to swallow. Not gonna lie. Because in my mind, I feel I give and give and give. And I do. But I give in an isolated sphere. The kids take the mother-load, the husband gets the leftovers and God gets my pleading prayers for the baby to roll over and go back to sleep. And everyone else? Well. I make them wait. A lot.
But that is from a me-focus. It's not me being other's minded. And as a former pastor once said, "If it's all about Him, then it's all about them." And I don't love well when I don't make time. Plain and simple. None of us do. And not loving well is kind of a big deal.
I almost forgot. In everything... I almost forgot it was maybe the biggest deal ever.
"God's definition of what matters
is pretty straightforward.
He measures our lives
by how we love."
~ F r a n c i s C h a n