“Dying to self” – this phrase gave me permission to choose life rather than let life happen to me. I watched this clip by Diana Butler Bass about “dying to self” with my Bible study group on Tuesday night, and it confirmed what had been stirring in me these last few days.
Last week was insane… at least that’s what it felt like for me. There just did not seem to be enough hours in the day to be able to accomplish everything that was on my plate for the week. The activities of the previous week had left my head spinning – all day research methodology workshop at varsity, lecture prep, gym sessions, tutoring, meeting someone to have a much needed conversation, a friend’s birthday party, church on Sunday and lunch with family, more lecture prep. There were just not enough hours in the day to do everything “right”. By the time Monday arrived, I was exhausted. And I started thinking that I needed to do some soul-searching to find out what was driving me to the end of my energy levels.
Tuesday arrived and after a full day’s work, I came home to plan for Bible study that evening, and nothing seemed to work. The topic didn’t feel right, I couldn’t find resources that fit well with what I thought I needed to cover, and after about 2 hours of frantically trying to sort stuff out, I threw my hands up in the air and thought, “What must be must be tonight. I’ve run out of time and now I just have to run with what I’ve done.”
But something nagged in my head, in my spirit. “What is Lent supposed to be about? Didn’t we as a Bible study group say that Lent would be a great space to become quiet, to slow down and listen for God’s voice about where we as a group needed to go? And hasn’t Lent been the exact opposite of quiet, not only for me, but for everyone in the group? Isn’t Lent supposed to be about dying? And if it is, then what am I supposed to be dying to?”
And then I thought about the crazy week I had the previous week, and then I started reflecting on what was driving the frenetic activity that seemed to fill my days since I started working. And this is when I realised that Lent held the key to set me free to choose life instead of life happening to me…
And so I chose to die to trying to be what I thought each of the students in my class wanted me to be… and in choosing to die to pleasing them, I found I could breathe, and my lecture prep flowed much better this week.
I chose to die to pleasing my professors at varsity, to step away from an opportunity to up my academic profile at this point in my academic career, I chose to die to this opportunity now and to wait for a later opportunity when I was more settled at my new job and in my Masters’ research… and in choosing to die to my need to be praised and affirmed and to further my career for now, I found I could breathe, I could focus on beginning my Masters’ research and I could have a much needed date night with my husband.
I am choosing to die to trying to be like a well-respected colleague who is absolutely brilliant, whose wisdom astounds me, and to whom I look up to as an example as an amazing lecturer and super-intelligent scholar… this is a death that I am learning to practice daily. I am still not there yet. I still feel incredibly intimidated, but I am learning to take each day as it comes, to find my own voice as a lecturer, as a teacher and as a scholar. I am not there yet, but I know I will get to a place where I can just be myself and be okay with that.
By writing this blog today, I am choosing to die to trying to be like all the amazing bloggers I have been following these last few months since being at Amahoro. This is a particularly hard one for me. I have been so intimidated by the amazing writing talent of all the SheLoves magazine contributors, that I remained silent rather than blogging because I didn’t know what to say, about whether anyone would find what I wrote to be helpful or interesting. But today I chose to die to be someone else and to embrace being me, to share what I am journeying with this Lent, and to trust that someone will be blessed by journey of dying to those things that Diana says holds us back, our way of being what we think we want rather than being what God wants for me.
And thanks to Idelette’s post in SheLoves magazine today (http://shelovesmagazine.com/2013/the-practice-of-feeding-crowds/), I found the courage to write this post. By choosing to die in each of these above-mentioned spaces, I am learning to breathe, to live, to be.