This Way of Life: A Little White Church Lent

Join Pastor Donna as she reflects on the transforming power of Lent and takes you on a 40-day journey of discovering God’s message of hope and renewal that she discovered in a little white church and in the hearts of the people who called that church “home.”

Day 5—Retreating

It’s the first Sunday in Lent and I find myself just wanting to curl up on the sofa with a good book or some knitting or quilting. I want to curl up and try to chase away thoughts of Sunday morning worship—those unrelenting thoughts of what worked and what didn’t work that keep playing over and over in my head.

Did I really say that when I was really trying to say this? Or why didn’t I go out of my way to say hello to that person who I saw heading out the door because something tugged at my heart to reach out to them? And why did I forget to lift this person during our prayer time?

I try to get all that happened during the worship hour out of my head because what happened or didn’t happen doesn’t really matter. What matters is how present I was to God who called me and how faithful I was in my witness to His love. That is what matters.

But the world has programmed us from an early age to believe that our worth is found in how well we perform, how educated, how pretty, how talented, how…the list goes on and on with all the “how’s” that are imposed—or self imposed—on us. We buy into that “grading” system to the point where we often become our own worst enemies and critique ourselves so harshly we forget we were wonderfully and beautifully made in God’s image.

This just doesn’t happen to pastors. It happens to us all for we all have that never-ending tape playing in our heads about things we could have done better.

And so the sofa cries out to me on this first Sunday in Lent for it is offering me a place to retreat from the world and, more so, a place to retreat from the expectations I place on myself. I just want to withdraw and stop the tape from playing in my head. I look at the book sitting on the coffee table for months, but I have no interest in opening it up to read. I pick up the material for my quilt, but I have no desire to stitch the block at this time. I look at over at the knitting needles sitting in the basket of yarn on the old dry sink. I don’t even bother to pick them up for all I know how to do is knit inconsistent, cock-eyed rows.

I sit on the sofa. It’s the first Sunday in Lent and I just want to curl up and retreat from the world and from myself. And so I decide to do nothing but sit and allow myself to feel God’s arms around me, hugging me back into a place of worthiness. I light a candle and I sit quietly watching the flame flicker.

It’s a Sunday afternoon in Lent and I know I need to retreat when I begin to think my success as a pastor, as a person, as a wife, as a friends, is all based on things I can do, learn and improve upon. I know I need to run into the arms of God for it is only God working through me will I find the sense of worth and accomplishment I seek.

This Way of Life Lenten Challenge: Spend Sunday afternoons in Lent on the sofa—or a favorite chair—or any place that you can find some rest—and allow yourself to retreat from the world and from yourself so that you can draw closer to God discover the beauty of true worth is found only in God.


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