Welcome to my Lenten reflection for the first week of Lent. (To view previous reflections refer to the list here.)
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Each week’s reflection is drawn from a chapter of Days of Deepening Friendship. While it is not necessary to read these chapters to participate, it will likely enhance your experience.
This week’s reflection is based on Chapter 2.
Let’s get started.
View this week’s video reflection:
Listen to this week’s audio reflection: First Week of Lent: “How have you managed your life so far?” (Audio)
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8
From an early age, we get the message that in order to succeed we must be good managers. Whatever the task, it should be done to perfection. Whatever the event, it should go without a glitch. Whether we are making sure our children are well-fed and arriving at school every day in clean clothes, or we are leading a company through a much-needed organization, it is crucial that we juggle all the responsibilities and tend to every detail, while monitoring how everyone is doing.
I consider women the great managers of the universe. Even when we’re not in charge, we’re often the people who make sure things get done. We’re experts at multitasking, at balancing our lives as wives and mothers with professional careers and volunteer work. Women of my generation, the Boomers, grew up believing that we could do it all and have it all. If we just managed well enough, we should be able to do all things and do them well.
Of course, life rarely works that way. And it doesn’t take long to become overwhelmed with the impossible task of managing life as it is rather than how we expected it to be. Before long, real life is overflowing and unmanageable.
We often cope by finding containers for the overflow, developing habits that might temporarily relieve our sense of being overwhelmed. Maybe we work longer hours or develop addictions. Or we redirect our attention to distractions and entertainment, or we begin unloading emotionally on the people around us.
It’s important to recognize when we’re overwhelmed. And it’s important to figure out what containers we’re using, and if those containers are helpful in the long run.
As friends of God, we have somewhere to go with the overflow. We acknowledge that, ultimately, God is the manager, and God is quite capable of working with the stuff of our lives so that even our overwhelming days produce goodness and grace.
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself just how you’re managing. You’re probably doing well much of the time. But you will live out holy purpose only with the help of holy love.
A Spiritual Exercise for This Week
During the remainder of this week, ask yourself these questions and stay quiet long enough to really consider the answers.
• How do I usually cope with stress and other symptoms of being overwhelmed?
• What containers, if any, do I use for life’s overflow?
• If I do use containers, are they good ones, or do they enable me to continue living in an unhealthy way?
Try to finish this sentence. You may need to do this several times.
“God, I’d invite you to manage my life if only . . .”
Talk freely with God about whatever hesitation or fear you may have.
I invite you to post your comments and questions and I will respond throughout the week. I will also be available every Wednesday from 10 am-Noon CST to communicate with you in real time. Don’t forget to join me next week (I’ll send a reminder).