Heather McCormack, CVV 20
Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. – Matthew 17:7-8
Have you ever had a moment when you realized that for the past few days (months, hours, weeks, or years) you’ve been consumed with anxiety and fear? I think most people of course have, but for me in particular I know when I’m happy and I know when I’m sad. That self-knowledge gives me peace. However, the past few weeks I was surprised by my own lack of self-reflection, a skill I thought I’d “perfected” in CVV, when I realized I was lost.
I work with young people experiencing homelessness in Denver managing a thrift store, I live in an intentional community with three other CVV alumnae, and I just recently fell in love with a wonderful man. All these things together make up my beautiful life, but like all gifts they also provide the greatest stresses in my life. Without realizing, my busyness, my falling in love, my hectic lifestyle has led me to finally opening my eyes to how very anxious and scared I was. I couldn’t see Jesus anymore and I was afraid.
I’ve never liked Lent. Ever. Lent comes around and I immediately resist, “I want what I want! Why would God want me to suffer! I won’t do it!” No matter how many books I read or prayers I pray, I’m always intimidated by Lent. The fear of failure looms bigger and bigger with every Sunday, bringing me closer to Good Friday, that day of death. I tell myself, “This year I have to be ready! I will be ready!” Without fail I eat meat on Fridays, I break my Lenten sacrifices, I zone out, I wander. And without fail I arrive that Friday feeling worthless.
This Lent in particular when I opened my eyes I was repulsed by what I saw I myself. At work, I resented my responsibilities and I’d been unkind to my coworkers and customers. At home, I’d neglected my community forgetting important dates and generally being absent. In my relationship, I’d flung myself headfirst without prayer or reflection. I thought to myself, “I have to do this on my own.” It took breaking down on my floor with my community members to be reminded I need not do anything alone, ever.
That moment of despair gave birth to a change in perspective for me this Lent. Without falling I would never have risen to where I am this moment typing away in my house surrounded by my community members, filled with anticipation for work tomorrow and confident in my relationship. In the past week I feel I’ve seen God from many angles. I went on a world religion tour yesterday, my boyfriend took me to a synagogue, a mosque, a Buddhist temple and a Hare Krishna temple, and today I went to my Catholic mass. In these five places of worship I saw the vast and varied ways people come to find God. I felt affirmed in my faith and soothed by the network of believers striving against the obstacles that face all of us to make the world a more peaceful place. The lesson I took away from my tour was: God loves me, I am worthy, and God is good.
I will never be “perfect.” My Lents will always be flawed and broken, just as I am. Luckily for me I’m a devotee of Jesus, who loves me as I am. Jesus invites us all to rise and walk back into the wilderness, but we needn’t fear. It is when we let go of our fear that we look up and see Jesus alone, our comfort.