Today is the first day of Lent and I'm already feeling uneasy.
I'm a hypocrite. Almost everything I tell my children not to do, I've done. And not just as a kid. Recently. I'm a hypocrite and they know it. I know it.
I could let it stop me right there. Sometimes it feels like the blind leading the blind over here, me trying to point them toward the light while mucking around in the dark myself, caught up in the snares of imperfection and guilt. I could say it is wrong for me to hold them to a standard that I do not myself meet. I could let the names of my failings define me and keep me from raising up another generation of people courageous enough to do battle with their mistakes. I'm not perfect, after all.
At night I'll drive to church and there will be ashes and songs about brokenness. I pull one up on my computer and listen to it in the morning before the kids come down.
Ash Wednesday is that unique moment in the church year where I declare it right out loud - I'm just a smudge of dirt, nothing more than that bit of ash the pastor spreads in a cross on my forehead. My days are full of things that take me far from God. My life, even at my best, is a collection of missteps.
Ash Wednesday is my favorite because it whispers the secret that gives me the strength to get up another morning and keep these kids on track, even when I myself keep slipping. The one truth that changes the story, that sets this whole thing apart from despair and lamentation - it's front and center.
God takes broken, splintered people, shattered by shame into slivers of what He intended them to be - and transforms them.
And as He shines within us, brighter and brighter - we light the way for the next generation to find Him.
I'm a hypocrite. The worst sort of sinner. It's morning and they come down and I crack open my bible and teach my babies right from wrong, knowing full well they won't always choose the right path. That they'll get it wrong just like I do...but despite this, despite it all - there's hope for each one of them. Me, too.
So we parent as if perfection were attainable and give it over to God, trusting that He had each of us in mind when He planned the greatest rescue story the world has ever known. I'm a hypocrite, and He came for me. I'm dust, and He died for me. I'm a right mess, but with this knowledge I can raise these kids with courage, trained right up in His story of hope and redemption.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were
still sinners, Christ died for us.
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