Upon year-end reflection, there was one thing in my life that was most apparent: I either need more Jesus, a therapist or both. So I decided to try more Jesus first.
I’ve never been one to participate in Lent. In all honesty, for a long time, I thought it was just a neat Catholic tradition, so I did not know the real purpose behind this 40-day period leading up to Easter. A simple Google search provided me with this definition of Lent, and it sums up my intention for this season perfectly:
“Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer and fasting in order to grow closer to God.” (upperroom.org)
Simple living. Prayer. Fasting.
Are these not the very things that can bring restoration and redemption to our too busy, too stressful, too everything lives?
Practically speaking, what can this look like?
- Simple living: Maybe this looks like reducing clutter so that you can breathe again, making both physical and spiritual margin for growth. Perhaps it means not purchasing new items that continue our emotional reliance on satisfying our feelings of inadequacy with things instead of Jesus. It’s less eating out, and more cooking in. It smells like a bonfire and tastes like s’mores. It’s an evening walk, a date with friends, a good book and a bubble bath.
- Prayer: This seems pretty self-explanatory but prayer, for me, is one of the hardest elements of my spiritual life. My brain wanders quickly to the who, what, when in my life, and I have a hard time being still. For you, maybe it means a focused three minutes of meditation first thing in the morning, in the shower or on the drive to work. Yes, three minutes. I think that’s a realistic starting place. Over the next 40 days, create a prayer journal and see the Lord faithfully answer prayers.
- Fasting: Fasting always has been my go-to tool when I’m feeling spiritually out of touch and drained. In my suffering, I am reminded to breathe, call upon the Lord and seek His comfort. This does not have to simply be a fast of food, although I do recommend it. Nothing brings you closer to Jesus than forgoing caffeine. Those headaches will have you begging Jesus for relief. For me, a fast is removing obstacles that are hindering my growth and development spiritually, physically and mentally. In the evenings, when the kids are tucked in bed, I’m notorious for exhaling onto the couch and firing up tv shows that are just mindless. Why not take this time to be in a good book, The Good Book, where I can be learning, growing or at least escaping into a beautiful story that doesn’t make me want to ditch life and move to the beach (I’m looking at you, Caribbean Life)? Why not take this time to work on my blog, an outlet I’ve come to treasure when I make the time? Why not take this time to close my day with a yoga sequence? These are the things my heart desires, God-given desires I believe, and removing mindless tv will help create the margin for them.
The intention of the season will be lost with a legalistic approach to Lent. Give yourself lots and lots of grace. When we find grace for ourselves, it opens up our capacity for grace for others exponentially.
A simple prayer for Lent: Lord, may you meet me where I am and help move me to where You are.
What can you add or subtract, multiply or divide for the next 40 days to bring you closer to the Lord and more fully become who you desire to be?
P.S. If you need a resource to begin this journey, I’m using the She Reads Truth Lent study. You can access the online content here. There’s an app, too. It’s a guided study, allowing a lot of room for the Lord to move. #SRTLent
Last year in a Time magazine article, the Pope made this suggestion: let’s fast from indifference this season, so we can feast on love. To me, this means adding something during this season, such as truly engaging with others, particularly those who may look different than us, talk different, think different. I really like this approach and thought it may be what you are looking for as well.