It’s not a complicated story.
I gave up makeup for Lent.
And it’s terrible.
It’s about control. I knew it as soon as the idea was dropped into my heart the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, the start of the season. It’s about how I try to control everything, including what you think of me. And what you think of my face.
(You may have noticed it’s a bit of a theme me and God are working with right now – control – as explained in my SheReadsTruth piece for this Lent reading plan.)
And it’s terrible. This no makeup thing? It’s a daily struggle. It’s not like every person I see I get to explain, “by the way, I know what you’ve seen in pictures but I’m not wearing makeup right now but it’s really me hi will you still be my friend?”
It hurts. It’s bringing up all sorts of muck from the bottom of my emotional ocean that I never intended to be stirred up. Old insecurities. Fears. Worries. And it’s constant. That’s the thing that sucks the most. I never escape it. It never leaves my mind. In every place I go, in every face I make eye contact with, including my own in the mirror.
But it matters. The pain matters. I sat with a friend the other day as we discussed some things that we want God to do in our lives. She said, “the good stuff is never cheap.”
It isn’t. I’ve never found the best things in life to be free or easy or without struggle.
And that has been this. I know it in my guts, even if I don’t even know the good that will come of this yet. But good will come. That’s how this all works. That’s how it always works.
Today though? I’m mainly just ready for it to be over, if I’m being honest.
But I’m not quitting. I will finish this.
Last week, I saw that my friend Jeremy Cowart was offering portrait sessions here in town. I thought about it long and hard and decided that I wanted this experience documented. I want to remember the wrestling. I want to remember the things God has whispered to me in the secret place over these last few weeks and the layers that are slowly peeling away. I want to remember the Lent that I otherwise would work hard to forget.
So I did it. I went and had a portrait session with not one stitch of makeup on my face. Woof.
After Jeremy took my picture for about 15 minutes, he invited me around to the monitor side to see some of the shots. I hated most of them. If you’ve ever done a photoshoot (professional hair and makeup or none of the above), you know that’s pretty true no matter what. But I winced a few more times than usual as Jeremy slid through the images he had captured. As only a big brother can do, Jeremy kept reassuring me that he was on my team and loved me and the pictures were beautiful.
Then we hit this one- this one picture of me looking away and trying to speak truth to my mind and taking a deep breath. And I kind of love it. I guess I had never noticed my freckles before. Or the three bright grey strands of hair that stand out because being Annie means life is causing some greys. Or the fake dimples that age has gifted to the corners of my mouth. Or the creases and the spots and the bump on my nose and all the things that are me, right there.
So I thought I would share it.
Because maybe sometimes we think Lent is easy for everyone else but us. Or we think that insecurities are only for the weak. Or we think that we are bad people for struggling.
But you’re not. I’m not. We’re not.
I could have never dreamed how hard this would be before Lent began. And I don’t know the new that is coming on Easter. But I can feel the buds pushing their way to the surface, through all the dirt. And I’m believing that something beautiful will bloom from these painfully sown seeds.
. . . . .
(Small Lent caveat: I am wearing makeup when I teach at events. So if you’ve seen me on the road the last few weeks and I’ve been on a stage, yes. I’ve had on makeup.)
(Also. You can still book a portrait with Jeremy as well. So easy and so worth it.)
. . . . .
. . . . .
Lent has long been my favorite season on the calendar. Blame it on my United Methodist upbringing, but Lent has always meant something to me. Something deep. Something important. And my middle school brain had no idea that EVERYONE didn’t celebrate it. Only as I went off to college did I find out that lots of Christians didn’t even think about Lent in the spring.
Things seem different now. Lots of people from lots of denominations have started to embrace the Christian calendar and celebrate the seasons. AND I AM THRILLED ABOUT IT.
With Lent starting tomorrow (ASH WEDNESDAY!), I wanted to make sure you got to hear this podcast with the amazing gals from SheReadsTruth all about Lent. We took questions from many of you about Lent, answered them as best we could, and then just talked about all the things. I hope you’ll love it and share it with your people who wanna know about Lent.
Here’s the links we talked about in the podcast!
– She Reads Truth
– Amanda Bible Williams
– Raechel Myers
For the first twenty-two years of my life, I was Methodist.
I guess I’m not NOT Methodist now, but I just mean I attended Methodist churches growing up and now I don’t. But there are a few Methodists traditions that I hold onto fairly tightly, including celebrating the season of Lent.Nobody better to tell ya than the ol’ Methodists themselves.]
I really love Lent. It has always been a season that means a lot to me, even when the church I attend doesn’t practice it.
For the second year running, my Cross Point small group and I are celebrating Lent together and in an attempt to resource them with many-an-option, I thought I’d share with y’all some of the stuff I’ve found that I think is great.[Yes, I realize Lent started a few days ago, but it’s not too late to jump aboard if you would like!]
So in no particular order, except Ann is always my favorite, here are the TOP 5 Lent resources I’ve found for 2013!
1. Ann Voskamp
I totally want to do this Lent tree. I think it sounds incredible. I’m going to pull the pieces together this weekend. And since it is only 17 days, you aren’t behind! Fear not!
I am a big fan of YouVersion and how it offers tons of bible translations totally for free. Also, there are always a blue million reading plans [as my mama would say]. The three Lent ones all look great to me, but I’m reading the Lent For Everyone that lasts a few extra days because it is written by N.T. Wright, whom I think is one of the coolest theologians alive.
3. 40 Reasons Jesus Died [don’t click yet]
This is a free devotional as well from Resonate Church in Pullman, Washington. I like it- such an interesting take on the 40 days. When you click the link, it is an automatic download, just wanted to warn you of that. [Ok, feel free to click now.] 🙂
Such a great list! Lots of ideas of books and things to ask your self and activities. Love it.
I am a longtime fan of this daily short podcast. They play music, read you a scripture, ask some questions, then read the scripture again. I like to listen when I’m folding laundry or making lunch or something like that. Lent is my favorite time of the year for the podcast, though it is pretty awesome year round.
. . . . .
— Lent is celebrated by giving up something in order that you might have more time for God and have a 40 day season of more intentional focus on the Lord. Laugh at me if you want, but one of the things I’m giving up is games on my phone. I can waste a TON of time playing things like Temple Run. It has already been hard because I’m so used to played in my downtime!
— Each member of our small group is memorizing a scripture during Lent. I’ll be memorizing Hosea 10:12.
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.
— I also made a Lent Worship youtube playlist last year, if you want some jams for your season.
. . . . .
Do you celebrate Lent? What’s are you giving up? Have a good resources to share?