OThrough eight years of serious illness, dialysis, kidney transplant and all the other areas of my angst, I have heard one very special message again and again from folks I love all over the world. Each person said it to me in a unique way, and remembering their message makes me want to reach out to all of them with deep gratitude. I could never begin to list each of their names, although I tried to in the image of the dove. Their message was a cherished gift . . .
”I need you to survive.”
During a personal life assessment this past week, I thought a lot about this message I heard so many times. I realized that these might be the most loving words I have ever heard. Hearing the words again moved me to a tender time, one of those times when life and death and mortality somehow come to mind. Truth is, I am able to think about these kinds of life things only in my tender times. This week my favorite doctor, who knows a lot about all things tender, said something to me I won’t soon forget . . .
“When you first came to me five years ago, I didn’t think you would live another five years.”
Such a statement would most definitely bring to one’s mind all that is important and all that isn’t. Thinking on her words brought me to the tender moment I have needed for quite a while. I lingered there for a few days, hoping to let my soul rest and my spirit begin to see things in a new way.
It isn’t such a bad place to be right now in the midst of Lent. In fact, Lent is the perfect time to pay attention to my soul and spirit. Lent is the perfect time for tender moments and tender thoughts. Lent is the best time to be tender with myself while searching my spirit for the parts of me that must repent and return to God with all my heart. (Joel 2:12)
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24 NRSV
Lent draws me to this psalm and its invitation to God. I might very well need to send this very invitation to God about searching me and knowing me, testing me and knowing my every thought. I come, though, to the part that asks God to see if in me there are “wicked ways.” I’m not so sure I want to do that. I know there are wicked ways in me that I try my best to keep secret. But this is Lent, and God already knows all about that.
During these Lenten days, be tender with yourself. Take a look at your secret wicked ways, but remember that God sends you the message clearly — that you are God’s beloved and that you receive the grace of God’s forgiveness even before you utter a single word of repentance. God’s like that, especially in our tender moments.
In your quiet time, listen for even a minute to this music video and celebrate its joyful message. It lifts my heart every time I hear it.