Traditions, Faith and Being True to Yourself.
Easter. Holy Week. Doesn’t everyone love family dinners and baskets filled with brightly colored eggs? Places of Worship have their parking lots filled. Everyone is dressed to impress, with smiles and outfits to match. Then comes the week after. The switch is flipped. Our Social Media feeds don’t have “He Is Risen” posted now. We are back to work. Life is busy and that to do list includes studying for finals, after-school activities, keeping up with the yardwork, graduation parties, and summer vacations to plan. Our schedules are packed. I know…life moves on. We only have so much time and energy!
Speaking of time and energy, I am reminded of a personal story. A little over ten years ago, I returned to the dating scene after being single for several years. In my mid 40’s, I was comfortable being single and had not dated for 20 years. I also had 2 college-age daughters who I desired to be a strong role model for. Everyone around me wanted me to date, to find someone. I really didn’t feeI I had the time or energy to spend on this new endeavor! I also remember the fear. Fear of trying something new. Of opening myself up to hurt. I received a tremendous amount of advice, some unsolicited. I can sum it up in this sentence. Be careful, go slow and don’t talk about politics or religion for at least the first few weeks. Well, I was okay with that advice except the last part. Religion. Now I understand that religion can mean a variety of things but to me it was about my relationship with Jesus Christ. Who I was, who I am, all my dreams, and my future are intertwined with my faith and the cultivation of my relationship with Him. Compartmentalizing my faith from the rest of myself, would be a misrepresentation of who I was. It had taken me years to understand how important my faith was to me personally and how this helped me find hope during times of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety. I think that if many of us stopped and did some soul searching, we would also find that our own personal faith and traditions are a place where we find comfort, rest, and peace.
So, what does my return to the dating world have to do with faith? Well maybe not a whole lot, except it does take a leap of faith to jump back into the dating scene at 45…right?! Seriously, what I am trying to convey is that who we are and how we see ourselves is complex. Complexity and compartmentalizing are two entirely different things. Trying to separate those things that truly define and ground us is like creating a false view of who we are. This distorted view can cause greater issues down the road. Your body and mind are a beautiful and complex work of art. I believe that is how God, the Creator of the universe made us. Psalm 139:14 says, “I will give thanks to You because I am awesomely and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.” When we spend time with God, the one who knows us best, we are seen transparent and will begin to find true fulfillment in this life. I can personally say that this will also lead to a greater sense of hope and peace.
That is why I believe that this time of year is special to so many people around the world. Our inner most self longs to find hope and peace. You see, nothing is unusual about Passover and the Holy Week of Lent being so close on the calendar. After all, Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover—the escape of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt. However, this year, Ramadan converges with Passover and Holy Week. (According to Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Emeritus Faculty in Humanities, Austin College this only happens about every 30 years.) When we look at the similarities of these faiths, we see that both prayers, fasting and feasting play major roles.
Could it be that like myself, over the past several weeks, you have watched most of the world stand united, praying for peace and justice considering the injustice seen in Ukraine? I pray that each of you who has taken the time to read this, will now take a moment to do some soul searching. I challenge you, be true to who you are and were created to be. Look in the mirror. Ask questions and make changes if needed.
You are beautiful and wonderfully made!
Give Yourself Grace,