Well, we made it. Lent has finally come to an end. The Lenten sacrifice is over, and Christ has risen. The question is, have you?
St. Paul said, “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised form the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The purpose of Lent is not to give something up as a sacrifice to endure for the forty days leading to Easter. We sacrifice, we suffer, so that we may grow. If we only focus on doing without a comfort, such as chocolate or soda, and return to the abuse of those comforts as soon as Lent is over, we have missed the point. Our success during Lent does not lie in the temporary suffering that we achieve through our own power, it lies in what we allow God to achieve through our suffering.
This Lent, my growth did not come from giving something up, although I did do some of that; it came from my deep desire to learn to trust God. It has been many years since I have truly trusted in God’s will for me. Because of this lack of trust, I feared hoping. I have been so afraid of disappointment that I have often refrained for praying for my desires. However, over the past six weeks, I have allowed myself, forced myself, to risk asking God to fulfill my dreams. I began with little things. About two weeks in, I cried out in desperation, and he answered. It wasn’t the answer that I had expected, but it was better than I imagined. And through that came healing.
I read a while back that it takes twelve weeks to make a habit. I have found that to be accurate. Even if I perfectly trusted God every day over the past six weeks, which I didn’t, I’m only halfway there. If you made strides in your spiritual journey, you’re only halfway there. If you can stay on track, you’re Lenten growth will not be lost. Relying on God will become a habit, and we will finally be able to trust—to have hope without fear.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating Easter by partaking in what you have done without during Lent. However, as we enter the Easter season, let’s make a conscious effort to remember the growth this Lent has brought about. Every ending brings forth a new beginning. Sometimes endings are incredibly painful. Nonetheless, no matter how difficult beginning again is, there is always hope. We just need to trust that God can bring forth beauty from our suffering.
"I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C.S. Lewis
I’ve lost track of how many times I have read Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I never tire of it (or its following eight books with the same main characters). It truly is like visiting an old friend. Most of us have at least one friend that no matter how many years pass between conversations, we just pick up where we left off like we just spoke yesterday. That is exactly what it’s like picking up this book for at least the sixth time.
Many people don’t understand how I can read a book so many times. This book is special. It is this book that pulled me out of my depression nearly a decade ago. It was one of the books offered for free on my Kindle. I’m not sure why I picked it. It’s not even my preferred genre. Usually I read crime books. There’s something about the puzzle of solving cases that draws me. Assassin’s Apprentice is an old world fantasy.
I’m sure this is not the only time I will write about this particular book series or this author. It’s hard to convey all of its amazingness in one short blog post. When I read the first chapter about the bastard son of the man who would be king of the Six Duchies, I was in a dark place. I had turned forty a couple of years before and had not taken it well. Half of my life was over and I felt, as many do, that I had accomplished nothing in my four decades. My head knew that raising our five children was very important, but I got so caught up in trying to survive each day that I lost my joy. It wasn’t that I was sad; I couldn’t feel anything. No highs, no lows, just the feeling or trying to keep afloat.
My depression revealed my selfishness. I’m not saying that everyone who suffers from depression is selfish. I just had never thought of myself as a selfish person. But at that point, we were living in a place where my family thrived, and I did not. I was miserable there. I desired something in my life that was just my own—a hobby or something—but there was no time. I desperately wanted to go back to school and finish my degree, but our remote location made it impossible.
This book series changed me. It awakened the parts of me that had forgotten how to feel. FitzChivalry’s struggles were my struggles—his feelings, my feelings. And by the time I finished Assassin’s Quest, the third book in the trilogy, it all clicked for me as I read these words:
It is one thing to be willing to die for another. It is another sacrifice, the living of one’s life for another.
At this stage of my life, it was essential that I lived my life for my family. They needed me. There would be a time when I would be able to fulfill my own goals, but that point in time wasn’t it. My husband and kids came first. It had to be that way, and I accepted it.
I have since seen two of my daughters grow into amazing young women, one of which has given me four beautiful grandchildren, witnessed my sons become men, and my youngest daughter turn into a lovely young woman. I wrote a novel (Among the Reeds), finished my degree, and found my hobby—writing.
I firmly believe that God used The Farseer Trilogy to save my life. I realize that an old world fantasy book is an unlikely resource chosen by God, but it was the perfect way to reach me. It was subtle and powerful. Now, as I hold my Kindle in my hands, experiencing FitzChivalry’s story all over again, I am extremely grateful for my old friend. And I know that this will not be our last visit together.
Lisa R. Perron
I have a heart for adoption. Three of my five children are adopted. Because of that, our family looks different than most. In this blog, I want to give you a glimpse of my God-sized, God-designed family and share all of the lessons I've learned along the way.