“What are you giving up for Lent?”
This is a common question among my fellow Methodists. I must confess, the first time I “gave up” something for Lent was about five years ago. Oh, I had tried in previous years, but just couldn’t sustain forty days; just too much temptation I guess.
A few years ago I was determined to try again. I knew it had to be meaningful and near and dear to me – a real sacrifice! Anyone who knows me, if asked, “What would be hard for her to give up?” resounding response would be – SWEETS!!!
It was so hard. But every time I was tempted, I would tough through it by remembering why I was giving something up. After all, Jesus gave his own life for us.
What a success it turned out to be – I lost 14 pounds in forty days. This giving up something paid off. Oh, and Jesus’ sacrifice did too – so that we might have everlasting life. Of course, it wasn’t long after Lent season when I began to eat sweets, and in the doing – you guessed it – I found those 14 pounds again. Lent didn’t change me a bit.
It is now Day 6 of this season of Lent. I didn’t give anything up this year except worry and anxiety. I modified my strategy because it’s so hard to give up something. Therefore, this Lent season I am receiving by focusing on my relationship with God. I schedule a quiet time each day in self-reflection and prayer. I begin by closing my eyes seeing only darkness and I think about what happened yesterday, and what’s going on today, and I begin to feel His presence right beside me. I then pray by repeating, “God, God, God” with each breath as I allow sparks of thoughts in that darkness to guide me in my prayer, ending with,“Father, thank you, forgive me, lead, guide, and direct me that I may serve You through and with others. Amen.”
Until yesterday that is – it was but Day 5 of Lent. I got busy with errands, laundry, and dinner and a movie with a friend, and I missed my time with God.
Temptations come in the most mundane forms; allowing worry and anxiety in again…just like those 14 pounds. I’ve always thought that the simple act of living your best life is a daily endeavor, requiring courage, which is but fear and faith holding hands.
As I took Teddie for his walk today, I noticed the forsythia bush has the slightest glimmer of tiny yellow buds. Snow and ice had bent it’s straggly limbs only days ago. I smile with the knowing that seasons don’t wait until everything is perfect. Nor does God.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” –1 Peter 5:12