Jealous of Nineveh

Sometimes, I feel a little pang of jealousy towards the people of Nineveh.

Today’s first reading (Jonah 3:1-10) is the story of Jonah’s travels through the city of Ninevah (before the whole whale-incident). God tells Jonah to go to the city, walk through it (which took 3 whole days of walking, big task in and of itself) and to tell the city to repent of its evil ways. Jonah’s like, okay God, and sets off. He’s only a day’s walk in, proclaiming that the city will be overthrown if they do not repent, when the king hears of Jonah’s proclamation and declares a city-wide fast and repentance.

When I read that, I get a little jealous – perhaps nostalgic is a better word – of the simplicity of that time. In summary, here’s what happens.

People sin —> God sends messenger —> Messenger says repent —> People repent.

What a clear sign from God, right?

When I meditate on this passage, I wish sometimes that my life was that easy. Say I’m stuck in a particular sin. There’s no messenger coming to my door, knocking and saying, “Hey Hannah. God wants you to stop sinning. Okay, bye!” There’s also definitely no immediate reaction of sackcloth + ashes from me. (In addition, there’s not a political ruler telling me to repent, but that’s somewhat beside the point.)

It seems like life would be so much easier if it worked like that nowadays.

No, when I sin, I’m stuck there, without a friendly messenger to prod me along. Perhaps you are, too? You sin, and then keep sinning, and maybe get yourself to confession, and then find yourself falling right back into the same sin. It can be disheartening.

And then I think to myself: well, maybe God is sending me specific signs, telling me to repent. Am I missing them? How do I go about searching for signs from Him, if I don’t even know what I’m looking for? Should I be worried about this? Do other people worry about this?…and on and on it can go.

I do think God is still sending us signs – they’re perhaps just not as blatant as those in Jonah’s time. We might just have to spend a little more time and effort looking for them.

This Lent, I’m trying to do just that. I’m spending more time reading Scripture (the daily readings, which are a very easy place to start!), and more time in mental prayer. I want to know when He is sending me signs, and I also want to not worry about it so gosh-darn much.

God sends us signs in ways appropriate for our day and age – just like Jonah was appropriate for the people of Nineveh. They didn’t have Facebook groups to keep them accountable for Lent. They didn’t have the opportunity to read the Scripture every day, or even have it sent to their email box if they so choose. They didn’t have a Pope, giving recommendations on ways to grow in holiness during Lent, accessible by a simple click. Heck, they didn’t even have the majesty and humility and the grace of Jesus on the cross.

Perhaps my jealousy is a little out of whack. Perhaps it’s time for me to own up to the day and age I live in, and know that God is sending me signs – it’s just a little more my job to look for them.

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The Spiritual Lessons learned from “Chopped”

Have you guys ever watched “Chopped”? It is my favorite show on television. And Netflix. And apparently Hulu, too.

It’s a food competition show where four chefs are given baskets of mystery ingredients and only 20-30mins to create something great. It’s amazing. Sometimes the basket things are semi-normal like chickpeas or blood oranges, but then sometimes it’s cotton candy, frozen peas for the desert round, or chicken feet.

Also I realize that the beginning of Lent might be a bad time to post about a tv show and food buuuuut…

The contestants vary in years of experience, location, style of cooking, and backgrounds but one thing is almost always the same. When asked why they want to compete they say, “I’m looking for validation” or “I’m looking for affirmation” or “I’m here to prove x, y, and z to whomever”. All of them are looking for confirmation that what they are doing is worthwhile, that they are worthwhile.

And then, because I get too emotionally involved, I worry about the contestants who are chopped and kicked off of the show. Are they going to be okay? Was their idea of worth riding on this show? What are they going to do now????

And I think it can be easy for me to think, good thing I don’t think that way, good thing I don’t place my worth into food based competitions. While that statement is technically true, I do place a lot of my worth in other things. How successful is my Bible study? How much do these people around me like me? How much have I accomplished today?

As human beings we like to do things that can be quantified so we can evaluate the work we’ve done. But that rarely works. We fail to “measure up” and then we assume that we aren’t enough. That because we haven’t accomplished something, we are worthless.

So I love watching “Chopped” because it’s food based competition and that’s a love language of mine, but also because it inspires creativity and unique thinking. But I also sort of hate watching it because I can’t stand to see people’s hearts break when they don’t win. I want to jump into the tv and remind them that they are still good! Even losers are good!

Our works and achievements and honest attempts and rare successes are important, yes. But why we are doing them also matters. Are we trying to prove our importance, are we trying to earn the love and affirmations of others?

Jesus loves us deeply. He wants us to do well and succeed, but sometimes we need failure to bring us back to reality and back to Him. What propels our actions should be love for Him and love for one another, and not fear of not being enough.

This Lent, I’m continuing to pray about my sacrifices and additions to ensure that I’m doing them out of love of our Lord and not because I’m trying to prove something. I am enough because He has made me good and He wants me to continue to strive to become the person I was made to be.

Happy Lent-ing!

Can I post this quote too many times? No way

Love,

Caitlin

40 days of owning up to having a blog.

I am for sure going to regret this but I’ve decided to write a blog post at least once a week during Lent. I thought about doing one every day but I promise it would be mostly garbage. So once a week it is! You get to hold me accountable.

Most of them will be Lenten meditations and probably won’t be as long as my usual posts but I hope you will still enjoy them!

I realize that if I enjoy writing, and people seem to enjoy reading what I write, and if I feel closer to Jesus when I do, then it should be something I practice more often.

I used to see Lent as a time to just cut back on things and practice self-discipline (which is still good) but now I’m seeing it as another opportunity to acknowledge the Lord’s presence in my life and respond more fully.

Thanks for sticking with us! Also I’m not roping Hannah into this so, no pressure, Hannah.

Happy Mardi Gras!

Love,

Caitlin