Today is one of the most somber days of our Christian year.
A day in which we gather together for a service penitence. A service in which we connect to the sorrow that we have caused others. It is a time of looking within the depths of our being to acknowledge the places where we have walked away from God, separated ourselves from God's purpose for our lives, and to confess the ways that we have chosen our selves over God and others.
For many Christians around the world, it is a time to give something up. A time in which the dust that is placed on our foreheads in the stillness of the service reminds us that we are being called to remove the unwanted from our lives. In year's past I have tried to focus on trying to take on a spiritual practice that I might not normally do within my daily routine and yet somehow something is different within my being this year (this season).
Recently, I've been thinking about Lent in terms of the characteristics that I possess rather than the things that I give up. When thinking about what Lent entails I've been drawn back to Jesus sitting on the hillside, with the wind gently blowing and large crowds gathered around him as he conveys the foundation of who he is and why he has come into the world.
The conversation was about the way we treat others. His teaching and conversation wasn't legalistic, it was relational.
This year for Lent, I'm not giving up social media or even some favorite food.
I want to give up making judgments about where people are in the their journey of faith or in their lives in general. I want to tear down the walls between political parties that have caused a divide within families, churches and friends. I want to give up the half heartedness approach that I take when approaching God's holy throne. I want to give up the expectations of perfection that I place on myself and something on others.
Instead, I want to take on recognizing when someone is in mourning. I want to look around and notice the deep wounds that parents are feeling when their child has wondered away, to acknowledge the grief that comes flowing like a river as friends walk through the loss of their parents. I want to take on being content in my life and my the design of who God has made me to be. I want to take on compassion for those whose voice has been silenced or never heard at all. I want to stand with those who are hungry in spirit and in their belly; providing both nourishment for their physical body and their spiritual well-being. I want to give up disagreement and take on being a peacemaker (not be confused with a people pleaser). I want to give up thinking that I'm going to be persecuted and take on a spirit of righteousness isn't defined by my actions but by the love I share with others.
Lent, a somber season of sorrow.