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!