Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Lenten Lament

Every Christian's consciousness is somewhat altered building up to December because the reminders of Baby Jesus are everywhere. But Easter, which is really the holiest holiday for a Christ follower, gets very little build up. So I like Lent. I like to give up something that makes me think about God more often, and gives me a more focused heart to celebrate on Easter Sunday.

So this year, I decided to give up secular music in the car and listen to only worship music on CD. This seemed like a positive move toward Christian spirituality, rather than a meaningless self-denial. The side benefit would be that I would get a much-needed break from Taylor Swift and Sugarland, with whom my three-year-old daughter is obsessed. She gets on a kick where she wants to hear only the first three songs, and wailing ensues if I change the CD. I got so, so sick of listening to "Speak Now," and waking up at 4 a.m. with it's persistent lyric stuck in my head. I know, I should be more willing to stand my ground and change the music, but I find 20 minutes of backseat screaming extremely distracting when I'm driving. (If you have any solutions let me know).

The first 10 days of Lent were lovely. I found myself uplifted by the words of some great worship songs, and thrilled to see my little girls raising their hands in praise in the back seat. Until Livie locked on to a set of three songs again, and would beg to listen to them over and over and over and over again.

Last week we had just come from a play date at which Liv had been so precious and helpful that two moms asked if they could take her home. When we left the park, I headed off to Trader Joe's feeling pretty good about my daughter and my life in general. On the way to TJs, we stopped at a friend's apartment to leave a pair of shoes on her doorstep that she'd left at my house and I had actually remembered to bring along. Found a great parking spot at the grocery store, and turned off the car.

This is when things get ugly.

Livie says, "I want to listen to the rest of the song!"

"Okay, honey, but then we'll go in the store."

"No, I want to listen to 'The King' song [next one on the CD and her favorite, weighing in at a very long six and a half minutes]."

"No honey, we'll listen to it when we get back into the car. We have to pick up Sissy from school in just a little bit so we can't sit here and listen to the song."

Wailing ensues. Being the tough (or perhaps unreasonable -- you decide) mom that I am, I drag my weeping three year old into Trader Joe's. As soon as we enter she begins to yell, tearfully, "I want to listen to wooooorrrrrrrsshhhhhiiiiiiip." All eyes on me as I try to calmly navigate the produce aisle.

"I want to listen to wooooorrrrrrsshhhhhiiiiiiip!" Other shoppers perk up their ears, trying to understand what my now hiccuping toddler is yelling. One woman about my age gives me a wink and says, "I have kids, too." One elderly man actually approaches me and asks, "What's wrong with your daughter?"

"Nothing," I say. "I turned off the music in the car."

Just then I get a text message from my friend. I've left the shoes on someone else's doorstep by mistake, because they aren't on her porch. Feeling like a total loser -- just half an hour after feeling like all was right with the world -- I approach the cashier.

"How's your day going?" asks the jovial cashier and he juggles my dry goods.

"Do you really want to know?" He does. So I launch into a maudlin rendition of my last 30 minutes. Thus confessed, I'm feeling better as I walk out the door, when I spot the nice mom who winked at me in produce. She has four feet of toilet paper hanging out the back of her workout pants.

"You have something stuck to your waistband," I kindly (I hope) whisper as I pass.

"Well, I'm the laughing stock of Trader Joe's," she says. I'll trade you places, sister. I'm the focus of pity and judgment in Trader Joe's.

Back into the car, groceries and puffy-faced toddler safely stowed, I flick on the CD.

To the king: eternal, immortal, invisible.
To the king: eternal, to the only wise God
We bring honor, we bring glory, we bring praises
Forever, Amen

Yes, God, I do bring you praises. I bring my small trials. I ask for your wisdom. And please, Lord, if you're alright with it, next year, I may not give up anything for Lent.

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