I will try to walk a blameless path, but how I need your help, especially in my own home, where I long to act as I should. ~ Psalm 101:2 TLB
The season of Lent is a relatively new idea for me. I didn’t grow up observing the occasion because our denomination doesn’t practice it as a whole. When I began to understand the meaning behind giving up something in order to grow closer to God, the idea intrigued me and I decided to make a commitment.
The first Lent I observed I gave up Dr. Pepper. I know, that seems a little trivial, but that drink really did have a hold over me. I would even choose a restaurant based on whether or not they served my drink of choice.
I held out the full 40 days. When Lent was over, I realized nothing had to have a hold over me like that. I can’t say I immediately gave up Dr. Pepper, but I now only have it on rare occasions.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been praying about what God would have me give up for Lent this year. He didn’t answer. I kept persisting, but the silence remained. I tried not to push the issue, trusting in His timing.
Then last night my husband took me and my son out to dinner. After we’d been there a while I noticed a man across from me with something black on his forehead. I wonder what that is? I thought to myself. After several moments trying not to be conspicuous as I observed the man, it finally hit me. Today’s Ash Wednesday!
I remembered hearing stories of how some faiths practice going to church on this day to be marked with a cross of ashes across their forehead. This was the first time I’d actually ever seen anyone wearing the ashes, though.
As I crawled into bed last night I was a little puzzled as to why I still hadn’t felt called to give up anything. Oh well, I thought, maybe it’s just not meant to be this year.
But this morning as I was scrolling through Facebook, I noticed a post someone had shared that sent shivers up my spine. I knew I had my answer. Let me share it with you below:
Looking for something to give up for Lent?
Give up resentment and become more forgiving.
Give up hatred and return good for evil.
Give up complaining and be more grateful.
Give up pessimism and become more hopeful.
Give up worry and become more trusting.
Give up anger and become more patient.
Give up pettiness and become more noble.
Give up gloom and become more joyful.
Give up doubt and turn to God. ~ St. Jude
There it was. I’d been trying to come up with something tangible. God, however, wanted me to think along different lines, giving up an attitude.
One of the biggest things I struggle with in my faith walk is complaining. I’ve asked God for years to help me become more sweet-spirited and patient. But because this is so ingrained in me, I never feel like I gain victory over it for very long. I know my complaining causes frustration and sometimes even hurt to my family and friends. I have gotten better over the years, but still have a long way to go.
So, this season of Lent I’m going to do my best to give up complaining and ask God to replace it with a spirit of love. After all, love has the opposite attributes of complaining. And I’ve heard it said numerous times that when we give something up, it needs to immediately be replaced with another thing. I think I’ll also try to memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 during these 40 (or now 39) days.
One thing I do want to make perfectly clear, though, is that building a better relationship with God is not about legalism. I’m not doing this because of any scriptural law, trying to win God’s favor. I’m doing this because I want others to see Jesus in me, and the best way to do that is by giving up something that doesn’t resemble Him. My prayer is that God will make me more dependent on Him and grow my love for Him even more. I know I probably won’t be able to stop all complaining, but with God’s help, I’m trusting I’ll improve.
Has God impressed anything on your heart to give up for Lent? I’d love for you to share.
P.S. ~ Thank you, Ann Marie Hille, for sharing this convicting post today!
7 thoughts on “Are You Doing It?”
That makes me think, Carol. I’ve never practiced Lent before either, not seeing the point. But since God’s impressed it on your heart and then shown you where to focus I think that’s great. One day at a time I’m sure you’ll realize (or come near) your goal. One day at a time.
Amen , Ellen. It will probably be more like one hour at a time 🙂 But I’ll try to persevere. Thanks for stopping by!
I love this post, Carol! I didn’t grow up fasting or giving up anything for Lent, either, but a year ago I committed to fast and pray for a friend. Like you, I tried to think of something that “had a hold on me.” For me, it was sugar: desserts, chocolate, but most importantly, in my coffee. I LOVED that first cup in the morning, sweetened with sugar and lots of cream.
That first morning was awful. I couldn’t even drink the whole cup. But I was committed. Forty days later, I could hardly wait to wake up so I could have my coffee with cream and sugar! I rushed to the kitchen, made the coffee, poured in my sugar and cream, and took a big sip.
YUCK! It was awful! Yes, God had completely taken away my desire for sugar in my coffee…and I’ve never added it back! (I wish I could say the same thing about desserts and chocolate, but…um…no.)
But more important than giving up the sugar was how I was reminded day after day, hour after hour to pray for my friend’s situation. That is another reason to fast something we’re going to be challenged with frequently!
Fasting reminds us to talk to the Father throughout the day, to stay close to him, and to keep the need in the forefront of our minds. Praise God, He’s able to not only remove our dependence on earthly things, but to draw us closer to Him in the process.
Thanks for the reminder!
Vonda, I hope after 40 days complaining will be just as distasteful to me as sugar now is in your coffee! I know my family would love that 🙂 Thank you for sharing your experience practicing Lent. I like your suggestion to pray whenever I’m tempted. I’ll try to pray for my family when complaints start to rise. Thanks for the suggestion!
I love this Carol! I don’t remember ever doing anything for lent. I always thought it was a Catholic thing. But there’s always an attitude that needs changing. Perhaps now would be a good time to work on some of my inadaquasies, like those little judgements I make. Humph! A judgement is a jugdement is a judgement. Okay, Lord. I hear you… It’s amazing how easily sin creeps in! Help me Lord!
Love you friend!
Thanks for sharing Judi. It’s amazing how God can speak to us through unexpected ways like a Facebook post.I think many of us would have to say we are convicted to change our attitudes when we take a hard look at ourselves. So good to hear from you! Love you 🙂
I understand just how you feel. Great post.
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