When We Are Undone, Maybe Lent is Exactly What We Need

When We Are Undone, Maybe Lent is Exactly What We Need

When I started thinking about Lent this year, one word kept coming to my mind: Undone.

Trying to seem like we have it all together is something many of us feel like we need to do…are expected to do. Even though feeling tired, overwhelmed, unsure, and a little bit like an imposter are fundamental human experiences that we ALL share, we can invest lots of time and energy and pasted-on smiles in trying to convince those around us that we have everything figured out.

We’re good at this pretending. We’re comfortable pretending. Until we aren’t.

Over this last year, all of our best-laid plans have been altered. We have new rules. New fears. New boundaries. It’s been hard to figure out what having it all together should even look like, let alone how to pretend we’re nailing it. Life as we know it has come undone. And I can’t speak for all of you, but it seems like many of us feel like we’ve come undone right along with it.

Part of Lent’s sacred work, I believe, is naming and embracing how human, even inescapable, it is to feel this way… to feel Undone. When we take off the mask of perfection and set aside the pressure to prove we have it all together, we have the opportunity to approach Christ as we really are. When we come to Christ undone, shattered, vulnerable, we get to witness how wide, how deep, how complete God’s love truly is.

Of course, it can be hard to figure out how to actually do that. Some folks try the whole “give something up for Lent” thing, which can sometimes feel like little more than a New Year’s resolution in reverse. Or we can find ourselves focusing so closely on what we’ve given up that we lose the point. And then there’s just ignoring Lent altogether and trying to skip straight to Easter, which robs us of the spiritual renewal we seek.

So what might we do?

In our conversations about how to walk through Lent this year, I kept coming back to the image of sea glass. Sea glass is about as undone as undone gets. Whatever it once was – a bottle, a window – sea glass isn’t able to be that anymore. But as those shattered pieces tumble around in the waves and the depths and the unknown, they’re being transformed into something humble, bold, beautiful. And new.

Something that would never have existed without first coming… Undone.

This Lent, we invite you to walk the waterline with us. And to take a different approach.

Instead of trying to hide our brokenness, perhaps we might look for new ways to share it with each other. Perhaps, we might ask: “What are the ways we are feeling undone? And how can we experience God’s presence within our undone-ness?” Perhaps, we could look for the beauty God is making from the pieces that remain.

Our hope… and, what’s more our belief… is that naming what’s broken and gathering the pieces will help us to grow, to heal, to hope. And, also, to more deeply understand and embrace Easter’s ultimate message. A message which assures us that even as “I’m undone” and “We’re undone”… blessedly, God is also… Undone. Undone in loving each of us exactly as we are. Undone in loving all of humanity. And, Undone with blessing the world we live in.

To help us begin the work of showing up as our fully human, Undone selves is Openings.

Openings is a set of questions designed to be an easy yet meaningful way for you and your loved ones to connect during Lent. Both to each other. And to God. You can learn more and download the printable Openings PDF here.

We’ll be sharing more prayers, tools, and resources along the way, for you to take (or leave) as they feel helpful. Our goal is not to give you more things you “should” do. It’s simply to remind you that God loves you completely, and yes, even in all your Undone-ness.

Maybe this year, the sacred Lenten work of naming and embracing our humanity — of sharing it with God and with each other — is EXACTLY what we need. And couldn’t come at a better time.

I hope you’ll join us for the journey.

Rev. Jeff Braun is the Senior Pastor of Winnetka Congregational Church, a progressive, LGBTQ-inclusive, justice-oriented and family-friendly church on the north side of Chicago. His calling is to share God’s word of love as spoken through Jesus, to make sure that everyone knows they have a seat at the table and to help us all recognize our oneness in God and with all God’s children.