|If my fast is here, it’s in print too small for me to read.
One of the things I struggle with in Lent is the part about publicizing a fast. This is in part because Jesus says in Matthew 6 to not show off that you’re fasting. It’s partly because I sometimes/often/usually fail in small ways or large ways (see everything I ever wrote about giving up anything related to coffee including not putting chocolate in it or not buying it in coffee shops, the latter sometimes including a pledge to give the saved money to some worthy cause), and it’s partly because I grew up Southern Baptist and that part of me resists the idea, and it’s mostly because every time I say the thing out loud, whatever the things is, I feel weird about it.
This year I picked something hard and personal, and I shared it with two people close to me and a wise person who is in a direction-providing profession. They all liked it ; they liked the idea that I saw a particular unhelpful condition/tendency/habit in myself and wanted amending it to be a goal.
The thing is, because I grew up hearing that I was essentially a bad and unlovable person, doing anything good for myself without being able to identify it as having a positive outcome for others feels selfish. So I convinced myself that it would be good not just for me, but also for those I love and, indirectly, for the world, which would no doubt be pleasing to God.
“So, Martha, it’s Day 3. How’s that going for you?”
Not so well, actually. When I’m challenged, I revert to habits of mind that are familiar. Today I felt challenged.
LP told me recently that she worried that if I expressed weakness it would be disconcerting for members of my church, some of whom read this blog. If so, I’m sorry! My guess is they are grown-up people who struggle with their own habits of mind, the things their mothers/fathers/teachers told them, things that may even have been well-meaning, but which serve to haunt the way they see themselves and feel about the way they move in the world.
I’ve heard people make the case that being too quiet about the faith journey, or our prayer lives, or our spiritual practices is a failure to witness.* I still really don’t want to say what the thing is, exactly, that I’m trying to do or not do. Maybe I’ll be able to reflect on it when Lent is past, or even further underway. Today’s grade is “needs work,” and that’s despite taking the time *today* to write about, pray about and make and edit a list of steps to accomplish what I am trying to do.
When I felt great emotion, I went right back to the place I usually go.
That’s my witness for today. For human beings, it probably takes more than three days to do something differently than you have ever done it before.
*If you don’t have MaryAnn McKibben Dana’s Lenten Devotional book, it’s not too late to order it as a download. Thanks to her for raising this question in today’s entry.