Last week, I wrote a devotional for my church's Lenten Devotional.* I had a selection of three passages to choose from--one a Psalm (it was long and dramatic, like Psalms are and I just could not get through it), then there was one from Proverbs (also long and had lots of rebuking) and then there was Matthew 4, where Jesus is the Jesus I like the best.
The bad ass Jesus.**
Obviously I wrote a devotional about this one! And obviously my devotional did not include the phrase "bad ass," although I seriously considered it.***
So here's the scene:
Jesus was fasting for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. He emerges, obviously very hungry. Before he can go grab himself some flat bread, the devil pops up with all sorts of drama.
I just want to interject some non-professional theological commentary here--while I think we can all agree it sounds completely impossible to fast for 40 days and 40 nights; I want to point out that location is everything. Like if I had to fast for even 40 minutes inside of my house, I'd never make it and you'd find me with a Clio yogurt bar*****in my mouth after 32 minutes. But, if I was in the desert, I would not have access to the Clio yogurt bar. True, I'd have to make the decision to stay or I'd have to walk forever to Costco to get a Clio yogurt bar, but since I am lazy and already in the desert, I could make the decision to just go ahead and wait for my Clio yogurt bar.
I know you are wondering what it is I am talking about. I am wondering myself. My children and the dog keep interrupting me. I think my point is this:
Fasting is easier in the desert. And being held accountable to your goals and aims is made possible by grit, divine intervention and location.
I was explaining to my best friend today that my daily writing goal is only happening because I've made myself accountable to publish something daily. The public shame of missing a day holds me accountable to my goal. My daily exercise and meditation goal is similar--I am held accountable to that little blue circle that pops up on my Peloton profile. I cannot fake it if I miss a day in either place.
But, the problem is when I leave this place--the place that is hosting my writing--I don't necessarily hold up to my end of the bargain. After I check my public boxes for the day, it is hard to sit down and write for myself. It is impossible to choose an evening of researching freelance markets when I just want to hang out with Netflix. Leaving the desert, while absolutely much more comfortable, leaves the door open to temptation.
So back to Jesus:
Jesus, of course, does not have any of these problems upon leaving the desert. Three times the devil tempts him--just turn these stones to bread, Jesus; just throw yourself off a building Jesus, just worship me and you'll be king of the world, Jesus. Every time, Jesus rebukes**** him, saying "yeah, I'm all good pal." He's pretty bad ass like that.
I'd like to be bad ass like that.
I'd like to say, you know what devil get behind me. Stop tempting me with the final season of Schitt's Creek, stop whispering in my ear that I can just get my work done tomorrow; stop with the funny recordings of British town council meetings; stop it with the Clio yogurt bars!******
All of that stuff is awesome; but it is a distraction.
Leaving the desert is hard; but one cannot stay there forever.
*I also laugh when I think of myself dispensing Biblical wisdom. So, it's okay to think: "This broad is crazy."
**See above. Yes, I am crazy.
***My daughter told me if I included "bad ass" in something for church I'd bring shame to the family. So, I listened, but found another way to bring shame to the family here.
****I do like this word. Just not in Proverbs.
*****If you have not tried these GET TO COSTCO immediately.
******I mean DO NOT stop production. Just like stop waving them in my face.