Familiar Versus Unfamiliar

Holy Week is coming up soon, which means the season of Lent is coming near its end for another year. Next week is also my Spring Break (finally!!) so I may not have as much time to let my brain wander while my fingers wander over the keyboard. Or maybe I’ll have too much time. I doubt that somehow. Anyway…

It always seems like with Lent comes some unexpected crisis in my life. As if it is God’s way of testing me, much as Jesus was tested. Not that I equate my sufferings with anything close to crucifixion, although I certain have a way of blowing things out of proportion in the midst of it all.

This year is different, though. Oh sure, I’ve had my share of stress and strain. Financial, mostly, as it always seems to be. But this year I have been shown the sufferings of other people in my life. My mother lost her job unexpectedly. My friend is fighting to keep a separation from his wife from becoming a divorce. A student of mine was in tears today when the stress of her home life proved too much for her. And I’ve had money problems again. So what?

I believe I can say with some degree of certainty that I have no idea what I would do if I lost my job, if my marriage were in danger, if something happened to my kids. Even though I have days where I feel like I am being crushed by the strain of financial stresses, at least this is something with which I am (unfortunately) quite familiar. I suppose I really would take a “familiar evil” over an unfamiliar one. Every year when something stressful happens at this time of year, I would pray for it to be taken from me. Now I know I need to pray for strength to work through it instead, and I need to ask for help in remembering how much I have in life for which to be thankful.

It took sitting with my student today as she cried to realize that I have a choice. I can either preoccupy my thoughts with concern for myself, or I can pull myself out of the situation emotionally and focus on what tasks need to be done in order to fix the problem. I need to save my emotions for other things, like providing strength to others in their time of need. I think that’s why I’m enjoying this blog so much lately; I can sit in (relative!) peace and quiet, and meditate on my own thoughts and feelings on my own. Then when I am out in the world, I can focus my energy outward toward others rather than hoard it all for myself.