halfway home

I’ve been asked to offer a mid-Lent reflection on my particular journey through this season. I’ve been blogging at www.kevinalton.com where I know I have a smaller audience, but that’s partly also why. In person I’ve been pretty good about not talking about it much and most of the “hey, Stinky” jokes have subsided in the halls of the church on Sunday morning. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can check in on my site or just read my original Youthworker Movement post here. So a few halfway point reflections:

Nobody cares if you wear the same clothes every day. Really. They won’t notice. Even my youth have said, “We just forget that you’re doing it.”

Honestly, I think if I was shaving nobody would even notice. I’m wearing a hat on Sunday mornings because my hair has become a force of nature, but other than those two indicators I don’t think there’s a lot of evidence. One of my favorite interactions (apart from one at the dentist that I’m saving for my blog) came just last Wednesday. I got a call from a social worker in our church to let me know that we’d received a concerned call from someone in our church about a couple that was homeless and living behind our Waffle House in a van. Would I mind going to check that out?

It was pretty warm last Wednesday, and I was on day 3 for me being clean and my shirts were on day 5, so I was feeling a little murky. I stood in the parking lot of the razed hotel behind the Waffle House next to a road-rusted Ford van from Michigan listening to a lot of words about why they were there and what people seemed to think that wasn’t true and how nicely in general they were being treated by our town. They weren’t homeless or even poor; they were simply stranded. When they travel their preference is to not blow $100+ a night on a hotel, so when they go on road trips they just stay in the van. In this specific circumstance, the van had broken down and they were paying a cook from the Waffle House to fix it. By the weekend they should be gone.

Oh. So I offered they use of the church showers, a couple of blocks away. We drove to the church and I headed to my office to work. An hour later we headed back to the car. On the way, she said this:

“The shower is the thing, really. We’re comfortable in the van, but there’s no shower. Eventually you have to be close to people, and if we’re on the road for a few weeks you always wonder if people can notice or not and if maybe they’re just being polite and not saying anything.”

Correct. I was wondering that about myself at that very moment.

I’m learning lots about myself in this process, and genuinely feel more attached to the person, ministry, and experience of Jesus through all of this. I’m still getting my head around a lot of it. At a minimum I’ve realized how important I’ve made some things that just don’t matter. I’m sure I’ll shower again. I’ll definitely be shaving. I’ll still probably care about what I wear a little. But I bet that I’ll worry about it all a lot less.

How is it with your Lenten soul?

Peace,
K

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One comment

  1. Awesome article Kevin…

    I am Youth volunteer at Lake Cities UMC… (Dallas area)…

    We didn’t make a big deal about Lent this year, but several kids gave up things since it has become their custom over the years…

    I am like you, some of the more popular things like giving up sodas, chocolate, video games, etc… always seemed trite to me… especially if you were going to restart those “habits” after Lent…

    Last year and this year I sacrificed the following:

    – No breakfast (or a least skip one meal per day
    – Wait as long as possible to eat lunch / dinner
    – Only drink water
    – No snacks
    – No weighing myself (cause I didn’t want this to be a diet or make it about losing weight)…
    – Occasionally gave up 2 meals in a day instead of 1

    This really got me in touch with a few things:
    – what any of us call hunger is NOT hunger… it is much more of our brain thinking we’re hungry
    – made me think about people that are hungry/poor much more
    – made me much more aware of God the entire time

    All in all it has been a great experience… last year I did end up quite shocked when I did finally step on a scale and had lost 40 pounds… wow… I was able to keep it off too because I didn’t go back to my “gluttonous” ways…

    I would challenge anyone reading Kevin’s article to really look to make a sacrifice from what you “need” rather than from what you “want”… I think it gets you much more in tune with “being a Disciple”…

    Thanks for a great article!
    Patrick