Clinging to the Past When I Should be Looking for New Life

It’s Lent. I’m still trying to understand the Lenten season and what it is about. Maybe I’m not supposed to know. Maybe it is one of those things that will make sense later. But this season has been difficulties on top of trials, and physically, emotionally, mentally and financially straining. Oh how I fail!

I have this idea of myself, quietly and reverently singing my morning and evening prayers, walking through my days with a serene peace that cannot be touched by mere earthly concerns, confident that God’s grace is in all, through all and above, beside, behind, before, and beneath me. In reality, I am distressed by the physical torments of fibromyalgia, stressed and saddened by the attack on my husband and the resulting lengthy recovery period, and of the lengthy period of surgeries and recoveries that culminated in the amputation of my brother-in-law’s legs, just months after we agreed to let him live with us and to care for him. This brought about a move to a handicapped apartment, where we find ourselves now, surrounded by boxes, broken things, and trying to make our old life fit into this new one.

I was out walking by a tree that never shed it’s dead fall leaves. It looks very out of place amongst the newly budding trees with their hints of red and of green, of furry white buds and promises of new life. It puzzled me to see it. How had those dead leaves held fast through all the winter storms and wild winds when all the other trees had parted long ago with last year’s clothes? It looks pathetic now that the days are growing longer.

I’ve been thinking long about this kind of tree. Before new life can break forth, it has to still expend the effort to shed the old life. It is clinging to a past that is dead and gone and making it more difficult to move forward into the spring and coming summer. I am much like this tree. I’m clinging to the leaves of the past, trying to keep my clothing about me long past it’s useful time, and making it more difficult to move on, to begin anew, to allow new life to burst forth and clothe me again in goodness and life.

So, farewell, coffeepot with the chipped spout. (Pop!) Farewell dresser that does not fit this new apartment. (Pop! Pop!) Farewell to the fallen lamp, sure to never light another room. (Pop!) Look at those old leaves flying in the breeze before landing on the ground far away! Let’s clear aside some room for the new life, the new place, new space, the new clothing to wear for 2015.

I have spent my entire life longing to be an evergreen, roots deeply planted in one beautiful spot, growth added to growth, clinging to every bit of growth, solid, steady, fighting what God made me, fighting the plan, and thinking I knew best how God should have created me to be.

Oh my soul, when will you cease this restless longing to be other than what you are? When will you cease fighting the plans that God has for you, the things He allows in your path? When will you let go of all the death of the past, past hurts, past disappointments, past miseries, past loves, past desires, past wishes? You cannot move forward with grace and freedom until you stop dragging all of that around.

Is this Lent? This recognition of myself as other than I wish to be? Is this recognition of myself clinging to the past? Is this it, the seeing myself in a dead-leafed tree on the side of the lawn?

Is that my Savior calling me forth, breathing on me new life, whispering to me to shed the dead past so that he may clothe me in beauty again? Oh, soul. Perhaps this is a small understanding of the Resurrection, the old is gone, but death has not won, life has won! God deafeated death by death.

In a strange way, that is a glimpse I am seeing in the amputation of my brother-in-law’s legs which I have mourned so deeply. In this death, and by this death, his death was defeated. He is alive because of this death. Shall I continue to mourn or shall I rejoice in life!

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