Give up something? Something else?
Just as the natural seasons and cycles of life come and go, so too do the seasons of the church. And in the faith tradition I practice, (I'll admit, as a grieving mother, "practice" may be a strong word. Perhaps "do my best to show up for" is more fitting) the annual season of Lent is a pretty big deal. It’s significant for me too, but it isn't the same since my son Chad died. Since his death in 2019, every day is a little Lenten-ish. Day after day after day. It’s not quite a bad thing. It’s just a real thing.
A while back an unsuspecting friend asked: “So what are you giving up for Lent?”
"Nothing", I said. "Nothing ever again."
Yeesh, I grumbled to myself. I seriously can’t believe she asked me that.
(I’ll admit I was a little bit testy, and I suppose it seems like a harmless question, but it threw me for a loop. That’s the thing with us grieving moms… unfortunately you never know what’s going to set us off.)
Of course I didn't say this, but I thought:
I guess I'll give up Chad again. That's what I gave up last Lent. And the one before that, and the one before that too.
(Not that I remember much about these last few years.)
Of course, it's not like I can choose. It's not like I'm doing this from my own free will offering. But in this messed-up head of mine, that’s not the point. The point is I’m pretty sure that continuing on with my own life after Chad died (and accepting his loss) classifies as my "A Number 1" biggest offering/sacrifice EVER.
That said, I guess I'm as "all in" for Lent as I can be. It's a time for teshuvah, for turning, changing direction. I know how to do that. I know what it is to be one person one minute and blammo, another person the next. I know what it is to experience such profound trauma that there is no other way but to not be the same.
I know the ashes to ashes, dust to dust thing.
I know the message of the cross thing too:
It's foolish for those who are headed for destruction. But for those of us who are trying to walk the walk, the cross is the very power of God.
So no matter what I gave up, am giving up, or will give up, I really am going to try to keep turning and trudging toward that cross and its message.
Because - my dear friends, just beyond that, just beyond that cross, on the other side, is the reason for my hope: The One Who Overcame the cross. The King of My Heart.
And just guess who's standing there next to him, with a wide smile and twinkling eyes?
My son Chad.
And when he and I reunite (right next to Jesus!) I'm never giving him up again.
Of course, no one is going to ask me to do so, but still... you never know.
I mean... people ask some weird questions.