contributed by Jocelyn
This whole idea of denying myself something is a concept that I am finding increasingly interesting and wonderful lately; in the last 7 months or so more than ever before. I really believe it is something that has been lost a bit in Christianity today, but is something that God wants to teach us in.
I fasted for the first time in September. I had learned a lot about fasting since I was younger [growing up in the church, youth group, etc] and I had known tons of other people who had fasted, but I had never done it myself. I hadn't even done a 30 hour famine [thinking that I wouldn't be able to do it]. However, the Lord had very clearly called me to fast at the start of September, and I went without food [just drank clear liquids] for 9 days. During this time, God taught me many, many things; far too much to cover here. However, leading up to my time for fasting, the Lord had been revealing something to me. He had shown me that I have a very deep fear of pain. During my fast [and since], God has been teaching me that the way He sees pain and death is much different than the way that I view these things.
As human beings, we so badly want to avoid pain and discomfort [in fact, we often go to great lengths to do so]. However, when God asks us to deny ourselves something, He is asking us to choose pain and discomfort [whether it is on a small scale or a large scale, whether it is during Lent or over the course of the rest of our lives]. This is very backwards for us, but it must hold some great value. Some of the greatest value that the Lord has shown me in it is the following:
Experiencing pain and suffering and discomfort and choosing to die to our own selves causes us to be more relational and compassionate. It also helps us to understand our Creator, to connect with Him. He sent His son to come into this world and suffer the most. He is the most relational and the most compassionate. Having this connection with Him also creates in us a more thankful heart.
I wrote the following [untitled] poem about 9 months ago. During my fasting in September, and now as Lent is upon us, God brought this poem to my mind many times. It touches on this idea of being okay with pain and discomfort [even choosing it], and in turn, we become a bit more relational, a bit more like our Creator.
That is an incredible thing.
what if i bled and bled and bled and kept bleeding and thanked God for it?
and smiled each time i were cut or tripped up?
and sang songs each time the vultures swooped down and did some damage, each time my wounds deepened or multiplied?
what if i was created and destroyed and created and destroyed and built up and held down?
thrown into the mire after receiving some sort of crown?
and what if i were okay with it?
what if i were willing to just stay with it?
to stay in it.
what if i walked around in my naked skin?
[like adam and eve did before there was sin, because they didnt have to look around for things to find value in]
if i made an exhibit of every imperfection.
blushed freely, and exposed every inch of my shame and guilt and my criminal self. and my beauty and my pride, and lived honestly because there is no need to hide a thing or conceal my messy insides.
to live each day this way?
to bleed and bleed and bleed.
and maybe even weep.
and to feel okay about it.
so that when you are covered in wounds, i might be able to grasp it just a little.
and i might reveal some of my scars.
and i might say 'hey, i know a really good song'.
and i might see blood in a whole new way.
and i think i know about pain, and i think i know about it today.
to be made into some sort of opus, and to have dirt thrown in my face.
to rub it into my very clean surface.
to feel pretty. to feel stained.
to see a process of fabrication, development, construction and design.
to witness desolation and see the insides of wreckage.
to understand creation and destruction so that i may create and destroy, and create and destroy, and create and destroy.
and so that both may hold some kind of beauty and all kinds of truths.
so that i might find things, and you might find things; even amidst uncomfortable things.
to be okay with the dirt in the presence of kings.
and to sing.
and to bring love.
because thats what this guy did once and it was revolutionary i think.
i can find things, you can find things, we can see things, and we can sing things.
and we'll feel things together even when we are apart.
and we'll never quite know where it started, or exactly how it came about, but we feel it today, and we know it in a personal way.
and we're okay.
we know some things now, we do.
so that we can be relational because somebody else was relational once and it was revolutionary i think.
and He bled so that when we bleed its okay.
and He experienced freedom so that we may.
and He created with the hope that we would do the same.
and He loved and loved and loved so that now, when either of us are bleeding or weeping or thirsting or seeking,
i can say 'hey, i know a really good song'