By Grace Alone

Dark and cheerless is the morn unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day’s return, till thy mercy’s beams I see,
till they inward light impart glad my eyes, and warm my heart.
—Hymnbook 1982

Lent is winding down. It’s been tough and I keep reminding myself that Lent is God’s Grace for us. It would have been much easier to give up chocolate than to live with the words and feelings that God presented. These feelings came from the depths of me where I did not know they resided. You might remember that the feelings were insecure, inadequate, insignificant and abandoned. I’ve worked and prayed through the first three, for now. I don’t really want to go with this abandonment feeling. Maybe I will do it later! I am an accomplished feeling stuffer.

I had a meeting with my soul friends this week (Element 6 of the Trinity Way of Life – Check in/accountability). They asked how I was doing with these feelings. I explained that I didn’t really want to do “abandoned” because I could tell it was a real deep-down biggie. I had not been abandoned so it was hard to understand. I wasn’t left on a doorstep or anything like that… except for, maybe, the time at age seven when I came home from school and my parents weren’t home. They had contacted a neighbor who told me that they were having car trouble and I should wait at the neighbors. I stayed on my doorstep where I felt a little lonely but not? abandoned. My friends mentioned other things that had happened when I was a child. Perhaps it all adds up.

I remembered being a young mother and military wife. This was one of my dark periods and without going into all the details, my husband was temporarily stationed away from our family for three months. We had just moved to a new post. I was alone with 4 little ones and very pregnant with the fifth in a new place, knowing no one, with no help. I felt alone, lost and isolated. Oops! I almost said the “A” word. I didn’t know, yet, that Jesus is always with us. But what is, is. That’s the military. Cope! I remembered a few other times and places with which, I suspect, the last few days of Lent will not be long enough to deal, but it’s a start. It is not good for us to be alone. I learned the importance of community from experiences like these. Richard Rohr, in a meditation on Tuesday, said, “Don’t get rid of the pain until you’ve learned its lessons….hold the pain of being human until God transforms you through it. And then you will be an instrument of transformation for others.” I will try. Jesus knows our feelings of rejection, loneliness, and abandonment very well as we will observe throughout this coming week. Watch closely.

In the middle of the week, other questions started to form. I began to ask, not what is the source of my pain, but when have I been the abandoner? When have I been self-centered rather than God and other centered? When have I abandoned my family? The world? You? When have I abandoned Jesus? Unsettling thoughts. Lenten stuff. Things done and left undone.

Visit then this soul of mine! Pierce the gloom of sin and grief!
Fill me radiancy divine; scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display, shining to the perfect day.

Thank you Jesus that I, a sinner, am saved by your Grace alone, and that I cannot really change myself unless you change and transform me. Please transform me! Amen.



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