Every single year, this holy season of repentance sneaks up on me without fair warning.

>>> Okay, I guess Mardi Gras is the epitome of "fair warning," but besides being offered embarrassingly large portions of King Cake (and eating every single one), the infamous Cajun tradition is somewhat lost on my fellow Houstonians. As in, not properly celebrated. Not really. (Exhibit A: WHY do I still have to wake up and get my ass to work on Fat Tuesday...?)

But I digress.

No matter how many pieces of gooey purple-and-green Bavarian cream-filled donuts I eat the day before, Ash Wednesday always comes as a shock. It hits me like a train going full-speed ahead, and I'm usually trying to scramble together a Lenten game plan the morning of. Or while in line to receive my ashes. You know how it goes.

So, yes, this blog post is coming to you five days after the fact. But it just so happens that these past five days were critical in pinning down the spiritual crisis I currently face.

As I sat before the priest yesterday, my head bowed in reconciliation and my mouth awkwardly stumbling over unprepared words, the one thing I kept coming back to was my lack of trust in Him. It was the giant elephant in the confessional, each and every personal defeat a result of my deep-rooted doubt that He could truly love me, knowing full well all that I am—and, even worse, all that I'm not.

Only a few days earlier, after a minuscule argument with a loved one left me feeling awfully fragile and on the verge of tears (even hours later), I began to wonder what exactly it is that drives my sense of self-worth. While the better part of my identity is wrapped up in being a good wife, daughter, sister, and friend—all the wonderful parts I play on a day-to-day basis—I can't understand why my self-esteem plummets whenever I feel remotely lacking in any of these roles. It's exhausting, quite frankly, this whole living-in-fear-of-letting-people-down thing. And also completely unnecessary. (No one's perfect, after all; meaning, no one expects perfection. Unless, of course, they're crazy—and therefore absolutely not worth the extra effort.) So WHY do I let my insecurities consume me?

It's a build, of course. Always a build of small things and itchy words that seem to say you're not good enough. 

And it was in conversation with the kind priest, engulfed by God's grace, that I was met with a major wake-up call. Here I was trying to bring our Savior down to my level, to place Him within the parameters of my basic comprehension of human love. But God is not human. He does not love me like my husband or my parents or my best friend, unconditionally yet imperfectly. He is the very definition of love, and I am the apple of His eye. Me, a sinner. Selfish one day and indifferent the next. Striving and failing, again and again.

I am dust and unto dust I will return.

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you and formed you: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine.

All this to say, I'm giving up doubt for Lent. Doubt in His love, yes, but also doubt in myself. For the first time, I'm opening my eyes to who I really am—who God says I am—and all that I'm worth. Imperfections, weaknesses and flaws included. Because if I can't see the real me, the best me... How can I expect anyone else to?

|| photo by Athena Grace + bible verse from Isaiah 43 ||