April 6, 2011

This is actually one of the few words I have left in my brain from middle school vocab. I remembered it because it looked to me like “barefoot” (don’t ask) and I could say someone who was barefoot was without shoes. Profound. I know.

So, as you might gather from above, bereft means “lacking in something needed” (among its other “without”-type definitions). And it has been the word of the past 20 days for me. I’m not sure if you celebrate Lent, but this is the first year I have been in a place where I could begin to understand and feel its significance. Not necessarily by choice, mind you.

I went to Trader Joes today (I know, I have many awesome moments at the Joes….) and had a moving experience which would’ve otherwise gone completely unnoticed (or at least LESS noticed). I was tired, exhausted actually. I zombied into the store (unwillingly…. literally I almost aborted the mission at the parking lot), filled my cart and zombied to the checkout. Zombied my way through a conversation in which the lady asked me how my day was.

My reply (with a sincere smile), “aside from feeling like I got ran over by a mack truck, its alright…thanks for asking. :)

She laughed and asked if I drank coffee. Me: “No…unfortunately I don’t. I usually drink water and it helps my energy. I’m probably tired b/c I’m dehydrated on top of sleep deprived (with a chuckle)” More small talk…more checking out groceries. Pay. Receipt and then as I started to walk away, a guy came up to the cashier (completely unnoticed) and handed her a big ol electrolyte enhanced water bottle. I watched her take a marker out and scribble out the barcode and then hand it to me. She said with a smile, “I hope this helps you to feel better.” Confused I was like, “oh?! oh wow?! thank you??!!…you don’t have to do that? wow! thank you?!”

Completely changed my day.

I went to the car, loaded my groceries (did not have to chase wine bottles in the parking lot this time, thankfully) and sat in my seat.

Buckled my seat belt.


“I will take care of you….

{I started to feel tears streaming down my face}.

…even in the small things.”




At its core, the onion {which also makes you cry when you cut it} is a tiny little bulb-like thing. As it grows, it surrounds itself with layers. Those layers protect it, nourish it and help the whole root vegetable to grow.

We are like onions.

We surround ourselves with “stuff” (physical or mental or emotional) to protect our cores. Our layers can nourish and protect us as well as keep us from a place of want. If we have our cozy blankies, we are further from the bitterness of a cold night. If we have plenty of food, we are further from the feeling of “hungry.” Our layers protect and nourish us, yes, but they also have the ability to insulate and/or distract us from struggle, fear and insecurity. If we’re not careful they can keep us from the place of desperate need for faith. The more layers we have, the harder it can be to connect with feelings of “without” and “need.” Because if we’re so sure of ourselves, then why do we need faith? {No worries, God, we’ve got this one!} Lets face it, if we’re reading this on a computer or a smart phone…we’re probably surrounded by some well-fed, cozy onion layers. I know I am. A season where I have intentionally (and unintentionally) been without has been extremely eye-opening and not to mention grossly emotional.

The experience of being without is bittersweet. Of course no one wants to be without. (Before you ask, I did not give up water for Lent…). Especially in our culture, the trend is to continue to want MORE, not less, right? We feel more secure with more. It is a protection and a safety measure from feelings of discomfort associated with “without.” But there is sweet in this equation too. The sweet is a tear streaming down your face as you realize that you don’t deserve the grace you receive on a daily basis. The recognition that everything you know and love could vanish in a heartbeat and yet, undeservingly, you’ve been blessed with another day of life as you know it. Another sunrise to share with your family. Another hug for a friend. Time together while it lasts. This is the sweet…and for some, only most tangible after experiencing the bitter of “without.”

Perhaps Lent is a time where we reconnect to our cores and find that our endless wants are only a distraction from the happiness we desire. Perhaps Lent is a time for appreciating and acknowledging the people and situations we otherwise take for granted. Perhaps Lent is a time where we “do without” to discover what can be done within in preparing our hearts to receive.

Whatever it means to you, I challenge you to finish out the last 20 days whole-heartedly. For me, it is not about giving up sweets so I can have a 40 day diet (have you seen the name on the website banner up there? borderline impossible)… its about accepting my place in life and being ok, and even (gasp!) grateful with having less. Because what I’m finding is that having less means there is more room to receive the blessings that God has for us. Even when they come in the form of electrolyte enhanced water bottles from Trader Joe’s. 😉


Is there something you think we (as individuals and as a culture) could use a little LESS of? If so, leave your answer in a comment below! :)

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8 Comments to bereft

  1. comments from facebook:

    Heidi Jellison: Well said! I think we could use our cell phones a little less, and our Bibles a little more. Great post!

  2. very well said my dear.

  3. thanks, victoria!! :)

  4. Beautiful words…. thank you for that.

  5. you are so sweet, Lindsay. I appreciate that.

  6. Inspired now… :)

  7. thought provoking, thanks Liz and absolutely perfect for the Lenten season….

  8. AMEN to that, Elizabeth!
    You know, there has to be more than all the material “garbage” that we surround ourselves with. It always amazes me how poor, poor people in Haiti and Africa can be so, so happy and have such a great love for our God! It must come from within and have nothing to do with the material “things” that they have, for they have very little. There’s an old Haitian proverb that I have grown to love. It goes like this: “God gives, but He doesn’t share.” By that they mean that God gives us everything that we need to flourish, but it is our charge as human beings to share and make sure that we all have enough.
    How “shareful” are we being in this life???
    Love, Mimi

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