Day #6: Courage

 Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field so that I may glean among the ears of grain behind someone in whose eyes I might find favor.”
Naomi replied to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Ruth 2:2

Elanor Roosevelt is supposed to have said, “Do something every day that scares you.” Maybe she was thinking of Ruth, who took that maxim to its extreme, when, after the sudden death of her husband, she followed her mother-in-law to a foreign country and then insisted on providing for them both. In this verse, Ruth takes her courage and, first, confronts her mother-in-law about her plan and then, with her mother-in-law’s consent, walks out the door to execute it. Courage is more than persistence. Persistence is the exhausted cheerleader inside your brain waving a half-hearted just-get-through-the-game pompom. Courage is what happens when, given the choice, you choose the path with the greatest possibility even though it terrifies you. Imagine what would’ve happened if Ruth had chosen to stay home—never made a career as a professional gleaner, never met Boaz, never married Boaz and provided for her mother-in-law. Not exactly: because of cultural convention, Ruth probably would’ve eventually ended up married to one of her mother-in-law’s relatives—but because of her courage, she gets a level of choice and consent in her marriage that was otherwise impossible. Courage is choosing to stay an agent in your own life when you have the option to become passive. To happen to the world instead of letting the world happen to you.

Takeaway: Of course your task today is to do something that scares you. A big scare or a little scare, but something to take that amorphous cloud of fear and stick it into a courage-shaped jar that fits in your pocket. Sign up for that salsa class; make a plan to pay off your credit card debt; call the therapist whose number you’ve had for weeks. Do something that scares you—because you’re already scared, the difference is that today you’re doing something. 

Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

Advertisements

Day #5: Persistence

If you have raced with people
and are worn out,
how will you compete with horses?
If you are at ease only when in a peaceful land,
how will you survive in the forest
along the Jordan?
-Jeremiah 12:5

Imagine receiving an invitation to a party that says, “This is not your type of party. In fact, you’ll be miserable. But you will gain so much. You will learn so much about yourself, you will make close friends who ease the frustration, and you will stick to your principles.” Resilience is about knowing when to accept the invitation to adversity—not to go out seeking adversity for the sake of being noble, or self-righteous, or the perfect student of suffering. But to understand when adversity is part of the process of becoming. Jeremiah (the one who bought the field on Day #1) knew this. He committed his life to advocating for justice and the prosperity of his homeland and, when that failed, to teaching his city resilience. It’s exhausting work. Early on, Jeremiah complained of fatigue–the above verse is God’s response. It’s irritating advice. But it’s irritating because someone—in this case the Architect of the Universe—has more confidence in you than you do in yourself. Someone else believes, in the words of folk songwriter Carrie Newcomer, “You can do this hard thing.” Sometimes the only way through is through. Sometimes it’s worth it to compete against the horses, even if you lose, because you will gain something greater: Love. Integrity. Resilience.

Takeaway: What adversity are you avoiding? Maybe it’s a difficult conversation with a friend, a restructuring of your budget, a confrontation with a coworker. Whatever it is, today write yourself an invitation to adversity. Take 10 minutes and begin, “Dear [Self], You are invited to….” Remember, the ultimate invitation is to persistence—you are invited to this season of challenge because it will strengthen you and your community, because it is necessary work, because you are hopeful and worthy and present for the challenge ahead.

 

Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).

Day #4.0: It’s Sunday

God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.
-Genesis 2:3

No devotionals on Sundays, friends! Lent is only 40 days if you skip Sundays–otherwise, you have an extra 6 days and the pressure’s on. Traditionally, each Sunday was supposed to represent a “mini-Easter,” a time of anticipating the fulfillment of hope. If not skipping days helps you to continue your commitment all the way through, more power to you. I find I stay on track better when I rest on those Sundays (maybe because I tend to add in practices during Lent, instead of giving up something). At any rate, Sundays are for chilling, so…. go chill. Gathering the Stones will be back with a new reflection tomorrow.

Day #2: Worthiness

But she answered, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
-Mark 7:28

This week I heard Kerwin Du Bois’ soca song “Right for Somebody” for the first time. The song begins, “I may not be right for you but I right for somebody,” which is a good paraphrase for the verse above. It’s spoken by an unnamed Syro-Phonecian woman (read: immigrant/outsider). She asks Jesus to heal her daughter and Jesus says, “The children have to be fed first. It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” (Which just goes to show even God Incarnate struggled to dismantle the deeply embedded racism of his culture.) The woman responds with, “I may not be right for you, but I right for somebody.” You may not love me, but you must know that I am loved. Jesus has to acknowledge that she is, and heals her daughter. The assertion of worthiness is an act of resilience. It is the insistence that even if you have been denied the presence of God or the miraculous, you are still deserving of God’s presence. Because you are made in the image of God, you are marked unalterably worthy.

 Takeaway: Set aside 4 minutes and 33 seconds today to spend with Kirwin Du Bois’ “Right for Somebody” (don’t worry, there’s no cuss words). Do not listen to it. Dance to it, as enthusiastically and unjudgingly as you are able. Know that whatever else is going on in your body, your body is worthy. If today you have an interaction where someone tries to exclude you from the table, remind them “I may not be right for you but I right for somebody.”

 

Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflecting on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).