Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season. For those who don’t practice Christianity and aren’t aware Lent is the period of forty days before Eater that we “give something up” in order to bring ourselves closer to God.
I have participated in lent many years although it can often be difficult to decide what to give up. A lot of people seem to confuse giving something up, like drinking soda because it isn’t good for your health, as something that you should refrain from during Lent. While you can give up whatever you choose the ultimate goal of lent is to grow closer with God, not stop a bad habit. If you can replace that bad habit with reading the Bible or prayer then it makes sense to pick the particular habit.
I have made this mistake many times. Giving something up just to give something up completely ignores the meaning of Lent. That doesn’t discredit the motive behind doing it. It’s always good to do things to better your life or get healthier it just isn’t going to change your relationship with God unless you replace it with spending time with him. I’ve given up things like TV or a certain food, but didn’t spend any more time with God than I normally did in the past. That’s why this year I’m giving up negativity.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
I’m can be a pessimist and chronic illness only makes it worse. I want to try to be more positive and put more of my hope in God. My goal is to replace my negativity with prayer and scripture. This isn’t an easy thing to do, but my relationship with God is important to me and I think it will good for my mental health. This will be the first time I’ve really done Lent “the right way,” and tried to strengthen my relationship with God through sacrifice. It isn’t going to be easy and I’m not sure that I can be positive for forty days, but I’m going to work on it.
I’m going to allow myself to be unhappy or upset because that’s just a normal part of being human. What I don’t want to do is wallow in negativity and look at the world pessimistically. Not everything is bad or going to hurt me. I want to try to see the joy in little things and feel happiness on a daily basis, even if it’s for short periods of time.
When I see people who have so much joy and love God so much, I yearn to be like them. Don’t get me wrong I love God and always will, I just don’t feel this sense of joy that other people have. While reading the Bible and praying isn’t going to fix all my problems and make my life perfect I know it always makes me feel more at peace and joyful.
Are you celebrating Lent this season? I’m not Catholic and any Baptist church I’ve ever been to hasn’t done an Ash Wednesday service so I’ve never been to one. Did you go to one, and if so how was it? Let me know what you’ve decided to refrain from during Lent.
Lots of Love,