The struggle of ordinariness...a Lenten reflection

46 They came to Jericho,

and as Jesus was leaving with his disciples and a large crowd,

a blind beggar named Bartimaeus son of Timaeus was sitting by the road.

47When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout,
Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!
48Many of the people scolded him and told him to be quiet.

But he shouted even more loudly,
Son of David, have mercy on me!
(Mark 10:46-48 - Good News Translation)

I am struggling with the value of my days - wondering if what I do is actually productive and meaningful. I have a dozen friends who wonder the same as they fold laundry, push papers, make to-do lists they cannot manage, listen to others' latest fashion finds while standing in the church foyer, and scurry kids across town for violin lessons. I am so easily jaded by North American cultural norms that value things like busyness, productivity, efficiency and being accomplished. These norms make me restless with my ordinary days - I should get busy and do something more notorious, more exciting. Most days are neither notorious nor exciting.

The context of my 21st century life drives one kind of manifest my own destiny and "make" something of my life. Yet within the depths of my own heart another desperation is pulsing - to be drawn beyond the pathologically overextended and self-absorbed norms of the world. Yet in my own morbid introspection in the push and pull between these various longings, I feel scolded by an innate sense of not being useful, effective or in control, and a little bit stuck and ordinary.

Scolded - that was the word that stood out in this morning's passage on Blind Bart - he was scolded for being desperate - for wanting. He knew what he wanted - he knew who could help him. His exhibition of need via verbal exclamation was quickly and very firmly "shushed." Well, an attempt was made to shush him - it didn't work so well.

My greatest scolding comes from within and seems to "shush" me far too easily:

  • "I should know better by now."
  • "Why can't I practice what I preach?"
  • "When will I get this - my identity is not in what I do or how effective, capable or recognized I am. My identity is in being chosen, wanted, loved as I am, not as I think I should be."

And in an instant - my longings for more, for Mystery, for healing get swallowed up by the scolding. Unlike Blind Bart, I don't scream more loudly toward God: "Son of David, have mercy on me!" I succumb to the "shushing", and let my longings get immersed in a frenzy of proprieties.

Why is it such a struggle to receive this - to integrate my value as the beloved of God into my daily living so that I stop my compulsive striving for significance? Am I gaining a covert gratification from all this introspection? Am I too afraid to live healed? How can I be free - live loved and without so much energy being sucked out by my fears? Why is His call to be with Him (Mark 3:13) not enough?

Just stating my struggle and relentless questions has lightened me a little.

Perhaps Deep has called out to deep and assured me at a level of which I am unaware. But now I can eek out a quiet, "I want to see too!" It might blossom to shouting some day. But today, Lord, I want the courage to live boldly and unashamedly in Your Presence - freely desperate for your healing despite these dratted internal and external scoldings I endure day to day - sometimes minute by minute.

Oh Lord, how will this manifest out into an equally restless and scolded world that also needs your healing? Every person I encounter today feels scolded for some way they are struggling to be smarter, thinner, faster, deeper. In short, scolded for their struggle to uncover their true and free self. Help me not to "shush" the longings - theirs or mine. I cannot help others unless you free me from my own scolding voices.

As you consider these words:
What word or phrase stands out to unnerve or ignite you?
In what ways do you scold yourself? Others? 

What longings for freedom are underneath?

The above is an excerpt from the unhurryUp! into Easter: A Lenten Devotional by Paula Gamble. For more information - please go to the Lent pilgrimage page on this website. Thanks.