When I was a kid, there was a line in the Confession of Sin we said every Sunday morning that used to unhinge me – “forgive me…for things done AND LEFT UNDONE.” As a child, I could understand how, if I did something wrong, then that was a wrong thing – a thing I should confess and ask forgiveness for. But things left undone? I mean, sometimes you just can’t do all the things! Sometimes you meant to do something, and you planned to do something, and yet you just didn’t get it done. For these things, I simply didn’t feel I should confess on the same level as an active wrongdoing.
Now, as an adult, it’s the things left undone that grieve me the most. When I set forth on my day to be loving to my neighbor, to my family; to do the work I have said I will do; to be Christ’s hands and feet in the world; to eat a specific way to honor my God and the gifts she has given to me…and then I don’t. These things, they are left undone.
God didn’t command me to eat this way, I tell myself, not as I am convicted to love my neighbor. It’s not the same thing.
And it’s not. It’s surely not.
But it is something I said I would do, and would do for God’s glory, and as the 21st-century-Protestant-work-ethic gal that I am, that’s hard not wrestle with on the days I eat candy on Fierce day or eat a frozen pizza on a Fragile day or eat lunch on a Fast day.
Glennon Doyle says God is Forever Tries. We always get to start over, and over, and over. And, as I’ve slowly over this past year given myself permission to, on occasion, not to this *perfectly* – and to try again the next day – I think God isn’t just Forever Tries, I think our relationship with God is built in the Trying. Actively trying, actively confessing, actively forgiving ourselves as God has already forgiven us (even when there’s nothing to really forgive – isn’t that often the hardest to forgive in yourself?), and actively starting over again.
I don’t eat this way because I *have* to. I eat this way because it’s a way I can actively, in my day-to-day life, remind myself of my relationship with God, with God’s creation, with the temple my body is to the Holy Spirit. I’d be crazy to give all that up for the sake of one day’s eating not to schedule.
I’m writing this to remind myself, this Lenten season, that the point isn’t to Fast the best that anyone’s ever Fasted before. It’s to go to the desert. And if I find I’ve turned away from that beautiful, open, sandy, empty place – to turn back.
If you are one who makes the best laid plans to find they so often go astray – I’m writing this to remind you too. Forever Tries. It’s the active trying that brings us close to God.