Ash Wednesday shared with Valentine’s Day. There is resonance with that pairing. Like siblings that share the same cleft in the chin or a widow’s peak, Ash and Valentine share love and sacrifice. Two days later, it is the first Friday of the Lenten season, and I am reminded about my call to sacrifice. What separates me from God? What keeps me from being my best self, the version of myself that was in the original blueprints, before I started mucking it up. Like that plastic bag inside of an Ikea assemble-yourself dresser, I came with all the parts necessary to be something complete, functional, practical and also lovely. Yet, in living this life, you often end up with those extra screws and washers and dowel plugs. The architect and engineer gave you all the parts you will need to make it sturdy and sustainable, but then we get our own ideas. We get frustrated. We get impatient. We figure it is good enough. Who’s gonna miss those few small components?

You will. Every time the drawer doesn’t close right. It’s usually not something anyone else can see, but you know, you are reminded every single day, that its not good enough. And it was by your choice. That free will. Sure, go ahead, leave out that one little washer. It will probably be fine. But, you know. You can feel it.

We’re given that little spiritual bag of parts for assembly. Necessary for a good soul, a fulfilling life, a life of spiritual abundance. Wisdom, knowledge, piety, right counsel, understanding, fortitude, charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity.

And sometimes we go about living and forget to be kind or we are intentionally stingy(with money or with love). We forget to be generous or we fail to hold our tongue. We’re stubborn and push ahead, alone, and don’t ask for help or advice. And then shit goes sideways. And we hurt. We’re alone – or at least we feel alone.

Having faith, deep abiding faith, is a willingness to be vulnerable. To seek counsel. To admit you need help (read the directions!) and not plow forward proud in your abilities. Because when you do, you end up with leftover bits that should be in the creation. Trust that you need all the nuts and screws that came inside the box. In fact, often, there are extra bits, in case you forgot something, dropped one down the heating register. Trust the Designer. That you are truly, wonderfully created and that you have all the bits and parts to be something glorious, useful, practical, worthy, treasured.