Ashes, Frankincense & Myrrh

Today is a day of fasting and mourning for me. No, literally.

I chose today to not eat breakfast or lunch and dedicate time to reflection and inspiration for a breakout session I need to finish writing. Earlier, as I was walking past my coffee table, I bumped this cute wooden incense-holder Clif and I bought not too long ago. It spilled light gray ashes on our carpet, and the visual struck me.

Pride and shame have been my life long companions. Pride helped me in the midst of hardship; it kept me from getting overwhelmed and helped me avoid what I didn’t like to feel or think about. Shame was there, too. I didn’t know it, but shame was what protected me from potential rejection… at the cost of experiencing success.

Growing accustomed to life as an adult with the after-affects of their presence on my brain has been awkward and difficult. How do you say goodbye to your companions when they’re no longer needed? How do I break up with them without rejecting their role in shaping me?

As I thought about what ashes symbolized, I snorted inwardly at the tired metaphor of a phoenix rising. Even though the Lord does speak to me in cheesy symbolism, I knew the significance of ashes meant more specifically for me. Pouring ashes over one’s head is a biblical act of humiliation and grief, like in 2 Samuel 13:19.

Next to the wooden incense burner is a bottle of Frankincense & Myrrh lotion I own. How serendipitous.

Jesus was gifted gold, Frankincense and Myrrh at the beginning of his life. God is giving me new gifts as I finally am able to face the sorrows he gave me when I was young. Losing my father was such an elusive concept until now. What does a toddler know of death? It didn’t slow me down.

I decided to mix ashes with the Frankincense & Myrrh lotion and massaged it into my skin. I can finally have true life when I do just that: allow all the sorrows and joys I’ve experienced to mix and join together; almost like a glue to piece myself together again.

While praying, I somehow heard Lanny (my dad) speak these words to me: “Keep going. Embrace life. Don’t let it get the best of you.”

I won’t, dad. Look at how far I’ve come!