God Have Mercy: Ash Wednesday

Photography by Steven Kemner

- Adam Lorenz

When I strip down whatever persona I put forth to the world and try to get to the root of it, I think I might be able to say for nearly a decade my life has been driven by the simple mantra of ‘Don’t be that guy.’

Don’t be the guy who does…
Don’t be the guy who appears like…
Don’t be the guy who is known for…
Don’t be the guy who…

I fear being seen or known as one of ‘those’ people. I do not want the world to perceive me in the same manner in which I look out at those that don’t align with me. And I am ruthless in my judgment. 

Aren’t we all? 

I’ve never met a person who doesn’t think they aren’t correct. Our ideas, our worldviews, our outlooks and approaches to life are the ‘correct’ ways. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t believe them. We would change them because we still want to be right. We want to be ‘good’ and in the clear. In turn, we judge anything that rubs us the wrong way or might shed light onto who we actually are. 

Yet who we are is very simple – we are all hurting, fragile beings. 

We are ‘those people.’ ‘Those people’ are us. That is the greatest irony of my own desire, for in attempting not to be that guy – I was that guy. I am that guy. 

With the simple sprinkling of ashes on our forehead, we are invited into this - today and for a season. A reminder that we are together in our humanity – that we are weak, that we are falling apart, that our time will not last, that we are dust and to dust we shall return. 

We all share the same fate. 

Lent is a season where we acknowledge this reality of death. We acknowledge our weakness and attempt to offer it to the only One who can hold it, and release its hold ON us.  We offer it to Him who knows the pain of this life and yet is the only one that can offer us lasting rest and peace.  
It is in our acknowledgement of the person we are and have become that we are then able to cry out from our true self our only hope… ‘God have mercy on me.’

This is an excerpt from our 2015 Lent & Easter Prayerbook. To download your free copy click here.

Adam Lorenz is a rider, a thinker, and a lifer. His passion and belief in the power of young people has led him to work with high school and emerging adults for the past 8 years and is currently serving as the Youth Minister at Grace Episcopal Church in Grand Rapids, MI. He is nearing the completion of his Master of Divinity at Western Theological Seminary and writes at www.adamlorenz.net. Follow his daily thoughts on Twitter at @adamlorenz.

Steven Kemner is a Philadelphia based graphic designer and musician.