All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.Ecclesiastes 3:20
We have begun the liturgical season of Lent. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, Christians worldwide remind themselves of their dependence on God. As we set aside the airs of grandeur, we are forced to behold the messes we are, messes which only He can clean up.
Though this sounds romantic, know that Lent will not leave you as you were if you celebrate properly.
Humans like to have everything under control, especially ourselves. During Lent, we are forced to acknowledge that our own selves are in His hands. We teach ourselves lessons of morality and wrestle with demons disguised as ‘human nature.’ We set goals for Lent, abstaining from red meat or snacks; whether we succeed or not, we are reminded that we’re not in control.
Ignore the cravings, cheat on a Sunday, you will be forced to admit it is difficult.
Lent is supposed to be an uncomfortable time, but this does not mean it has to be a dark time. The spirit of Lent should be carried throughout the year, this battle for our own souls. We should learn to approach an admission of weakness as freedom: it allows us to rest our heads on His Sacred Heart, knowing that there is no other way to “be perfect.” We give it all up to Him, even the vices and pain that we somehow glorified. He loves us too much to let us stay enslaved.
Take comfort, for you are dust. From dust the Lord shaped you into a human. Everything unique about you was formed by His Hands. Your strengths and weaknesses were breathed by Him. Take comfort–while you are still expected to fight the good fight and endure until the end, your failures are progress. We do not need to feel like gods when we are formed from dust. We do not need to wallow in shame; we are dust and, as He shaped into what we are, He can shape us into more perfect versions–if we let Him.
Lent is more than a time to give up donuts. We should always live grateful that our God never gives up on us. If we will drop the petty things that make us feel unique, things we won’t admit are hurting us, He will transform us. The flower must push through the ground before it blooms; we are dust, and dust can be made into beautiful clay statues, but not without an uncomfortable process.
If we live our lives with the penitential, humble spirit of Lent, we might one day be perfect.
I am trying to purge myself of toxic thoughts. I am trying to do scary things and step over the boundaries I set, somehow believing I knew myself enough to dictate what I am capable of. I know nothing about myself; how can I dare say what I am capable of? I am savoring every moment and opening doors I can’t afford to keep closed.
A heart shut up won’t break, but neither will it grow.
I am dust. So long as I remember this, I can be shaped by God into something worthy of Him. I will never be finished in this life, but how dare I stop seeking worthiness? How dare I settle in this shriveled version of myself? Lent is uncomfortable, but so is life.
Use Lent as a time to take action and toss your demons out the door. Don’t give them the key or tell them where the spare is hidden. You might feel empty for a while without them, but angels won’t take long to come to your aid.
Do not be grieved by the memory of being dust. Beautiful things grow out of dirt; God can make this dust into rich soil, home to a most glorious flower garden pleasing to Him.