First Posted 28-Feb-2015
We are a silly culture. When asked to sacrifice for the weeks leading up to Easter our best ideas are things like using Facebook less or giving up Deep Fried Twinkies. I’m sure the more serious among us do needful things like quit drinking or smoking or start rehab. There is that bunch whose lives are pretty normal so things like watching less Survivor for a few weeks are an actual sacrifice.
I’ve been up, I’ve been down, up, up, down, down, any way you can imagine life. I’ve called a bed in a homeless shelter home, laid my head down in a county jail cell, and had my name on the lease of a two-bedroom townhouse. I’ve been married, have a kid (now a young man), divorced, happy and depressed. These days I live in a single-family home by myself. It’s better than it has been. I’ve been around some.
I chose a sparse life for so long that now, being able to treat myself a bit, feels nice. My friend was over for breakfast and he offered to bring eggs. I got the impression that these eggs were what would feed him for the next little while. Been there, too, in my own way. I have eggs, also my version of homefries, orange juice, coffee, and real Virginia ham, made in Surry, VA. He came over and ate while I talked about celebrating Chinese New Years with my son in Boston, MA.
It’s not a stretch for me to sacrifice because that has been my life for almost 15 years. Counter to the usual Lenten tradition, the stretch for me is ensuring I’m taking care of myself. The stretch is ensuring I have enough. And I do, now. If you follow this blog you’ll remember that a frequent event of the last decade has been that I get into a pickle, think things will not work out, that this perceived peril is real, and after a time, learn that again, it’ll be ok. The pickle this time is a short paycheck and thus, a worry about the rent, due today. The pattern has been that things will work out. I’m taking comfort in that.
Lent . . . giving up a little. If there is a parva lectionem on my heart, it is this: most of us can give up a dime on every dollar we make. We can sacrifice a tenth of what we have. I don’t do well with this. It is one of my remaining points of pain–giving God a tenth even though I don’t have the money for the rent until next Friday and it is due today. Still, and if this makes my words hollow, sorry, I believe we can all do a little, do a tenth. We can also give a tenth of our time and labor to missions & service. It won’t be much, it won’t bring about the rapture, won’t change the world. But those big events belong to God, not to us. It is to us to do the little bit, do the tenth, and let God magnify it into something significant.
What am I giving up this Lent? Probably more of my fear around giving that tenth. Left to my anxieties, I’d not give my tithe this week. I’d hold on to it and try to pay the rent on time, even though I can’t. My stepping out on faith will be to pay my tithe, give my tenth, and trust that as it has been so for over a decade, it’ll be fine. I should probably not finish the chocolate-covered, deep-fried Twinkie in front of me. Needs more powdered sugar. Tasty.