This Lent, I Want to Stop Cheating

On God, that is.

In the last few weeks I happened to read the memoirs of two women whose marriages were destroyed by adultery. Both women described being cast aside by their husband for other people as the single most painful experience of their lives. They loved their husbands deeply, and they tried to save their marriages through counseling and compromise when they found out about initial affairs, but their husbands resolutely chose another path, a path that no longer had room for them. These strong, beautiful women nearly drowned in their sorrow as they watched promises they’d based their lives on be trampled, then broken.

Then I happened to read Ezekiel 16, and I realized we do the same thing to God.

We, the puny little humans, breaking God’s heart. Incredible but true. God feels anger and heartbreak when we turn away from pure Love and accept a cheap substitute. God knows our idols don’t love us back. We hoard money like we could eat it. We scramble for security like we’re ignorant it can crumble in a moment. We do this ridiculous tap dance of approval seeking and blame dodging like other people define who we are. God knows this is, in every sense of the word, vanity, that only the Divine can make us truly happy.

This Lent I realized I haven’t been letting God into many parts of my life. There are things I’ve been trying to hide out of sight of our relationship: bitter feelings about my humble job, anger about lack of healing in friends and family, fear that others will criticize or reject me. I must feel, at some level, that Jesus wouldn’t care or wouldn’t help if I brought these things to him in prayer. So instead of communicating, I stuff my feelings inside and I seek out other loves: ego stroking, shiny purchases, aggrieved complaining, excessive busyness, passive daydreaming. I’ve been on this roller coaster ride of hypocrisy and self-justification, caring more about looking like a nice person than changing my heart.

I need to get off that ride and back into the arms of the One who loves me, loves me for life and beyond. I want to receive that love, I want to return that love. I want to honor the promises made in that love. Even on the days when my eyes feel like straying, I want to lift my eyes to God, the true source of my help.

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