Many people talk about giving things up for Lent. Some give up chocolate, others Facebook. Some of my crazier friends give up sugar or coffee (essentially, they are giving up all their friends for 40 days, because I’m not sure how they will function – or be pleasant).
The practice started as a way to join Jesus in the wilderness, refocusing our lives on him, rather than the worldly things we come to depend on. In many instances, the Lenten practice has become a New Year’s Resolution re-do. We put practices in place that we know will be a struggle, but that we also know will help us to lose weight or meet the next goal in front of us.
Personally, I tend to start with such lofty goals in Lent that I can’t make it through 40 days. And, by the end, I feel further from God than I did before, because I feel like I let God down in some way. (If you need a refresher on my personality and why this is, please see my post from last Wednesday.)
So, this year, I started Lent in what should have been an obvious way, but for me is new: Prayer. I asked God to open my eyes to a Lenten practice that would help me walk more closely with Christ throughout this season.
In conversation together, God reminded me that I still struggle to see myself that way God sees me. My wonderful Creator spoke words of affirmation and love, and said, “My precious child, this season, as you follow my son into the wilderness of prayer and fasting, my great hope is that you will step into Easter with a renewed sense of your own worth, and the valuable leader I created you to be.”
So, this year, I walk into Lent, not giving something up, but pursuing something much greater.
At the end of each day, I commit to reflecting on and writing down three successes from that day. Yesterday, I finally mailed the paperwork for my dog. Success. Today, I posted on my blog. Success. Tomorrow, I will laugh with friends. Success.
From items large or small, each day contains glimmers of hope and grace. These are the things that make me the person God needs me to be. These are the things that need my attention most as I fall into a renewing slumber. These are the things that should motivate me when I wake up each morning.
After one day, I realize that this practice will not be easy. I will have to reframe my thoughts. I will not be able to allow myself to dwell on the negative. I will have to invite God to refocus my mind and open my heart to my own potential and my own success.
If you haven’t set a Lenten practice for yourself, I invite you to join me. Together, let’s open our eyes to the reality that we are made in God’s image, and God wants to use us out of the best we have to offer. And, no matter what, we each have so much to celebrate!