This year’s theme is 40.
I am 40 today. This is just a number, but I am thrilled to be here. Last decade, I moved countries, I remarried, I had four babies, I stayed home and then I went back to work. I doubled my salary and I doubled my ability to handle things, at least.
Last year, I gave up something for Lent. This year, I’m going to fast the 40 days. I have court to face in April, and I want to be armed and dangerous. I struggled with fasting one day before.
I have spent 40 days in the wilderness, figuratively, over the last decade and this is the first year when I see the edge. My decade was probably more like the Hebrews taking 40 years to do their 11 miles. My toes are in the water, I’m nearly ready to cross into Canaan.
Ten years ago I hated by first husband and would have probably sliced him into hors d’oeuvres if I could have gotten away with it. Now, I feel sorry for him and have forgiven the pain he inflicted. He is a damaged human. There is nothing to hate.
Ten years ago I thougt my value to the world consisted of being smart and pretty and entertaining to men all while maintaining a size 8. I’ve learned those are foolish and temporary things, hurtful to chase and hurtful to achieve.
Forty days in the wildnerness sharpens one’s sense of what is truly vital for survival, and what is an additonal extra you have convinced yourself that you need. Once you know what you really need, then it makes you a lot braver: after all, if the rest of the stuff is gone, you know you’ll be fine without it.
I have to face court again at the end of this forty days. I don’t dare face it without tuning out some world-noise and letting God have more space to use. A few days while my body yells at me about the lack of caffeine and the lack of junk food and the rest, and then those voices should die down. I’ll know my body is just that – fleshy and prone to weakness – but my spirit will come out stronger and I will hear.
And I know it must be working. Satan reared his head yesterday and my husband unwittingly let him. Ten years ago, an outburst like that would have destroyed me for days. This time, I just went for a little drive and thought about how I was going to react. I calmly arrived at an assessment. It’s not fair to expect me to manage ALL the stuff at home on top of a very stressful job, so of course, sometimes I’m going to forget or mix things up. This is human and I’m not mad at myself for it – nor should my husband have been. The temper tantrum that finished with all the yelling and name-calling and thrashing around was totally out of order for a busy woman and mother juggling four kids to forget something.
That wasn’t him, that was some spirit with evil intentions noticing my fast was still on after two whole days. Alarm bells must have been sounding, and given I’m pretty prayed up these days – my husband was probably an easier target. But the devil didn’t get much satisfaction out of me, I had my drive, I did some errands (okay, at ten at night, but anyway) and went home. There was no yelling back or arguing.
That’s about as close to submissive as I can get. I also didn’t argue with my boss who told me I have to be in five days a week. I would have liked to, but it just didn’t seem to be the right thing. A year ago – let alone ten – that would have been cue diva tantrum. Not this time. Small victory.
I’m not enjoying a growling tummy, or caffeine withdrawal or restless sleeping but that’s just my body pitching a fit. It will live, and I know the control and discipline I will have at the other side are worth so much more than indulging in a soda right now. If one of my less favorite colleagues calls or picks a fight, I may feel differently in a little while – but I’m determined and I know I need to do this.
The truth is: the quicker you figure out where you need to grow, the quicker you get on with the rest of it. Hanging around fighting God when he wants to do something only results in a longer fight. Eventually, He is going to win and you are going to be sorry you didn’t just give in gracefully (or at least give in) earlier. So this is about me demonstrating, yes, I understand Who is in charge around here, and it isn’t me. If I want you to show up and be God when I need you, then I also need to let you be God the rest of the time.
Selah. 3 days down. No fatalities, no tantrums and no cheats.