Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. Forty days (Sundays not included) meant for reflection, repentance, and sacrifice. A time for Christians to prepare for Easter and remind ourselves why this time matters so much. That we would focus our hearts on Jesus Christ. On his life, death, burial and resurrection. On His suffering and His sacrifice.
I truly love this season, it always feels like a new beginning. A time of renewal, a rebirth. Spring is near and life is on the verge of abundance, nesting birds, blooming trees, a bursting garden. A recovery from that which was harsh and cold and heavy.
Not all Christian churches observe Lent but my family does and we are deeply blessed to do so. I was raised Presbyterian and grew up with the season of Lent but not the personal practice of “giving something up” in observance of Lent. That is something my husband and I decided to do as a married couple and it is something our children will do for the first time this year. We have asked them to pray and listen for what God is putting on their hearts, what He wants them to give to Him. Sara is pretty sure she will be giving up the computer. David was quick to offer up fruits and vegetables, we suggested a bit more reflection. Nathan is still a little young to fully understand but we will encourage him and show him by our example.
If you have read my last few posts, you know that I have been on a bit of a journey with God over the last few weeks – probably much longer but I’ve only just begun to really listen. I feel Him pulling me forward into a new season. My family is moving into a new season. That I have felt coming for some time now. I have observed the change in my children. The deep healing and increased peace in them.
Four years ago, in the Spring, our older two children returned to us after having been back in the care of their birth mother for nearly two years. You can read more of that story in my post “Beauty from Ashes”. In that four years, we have walked with them through some very dark and terrifying places as they fought their way back from abuse and trauma. It has been hard. Very hard. The hardest thing I have ever done and I have not always done it with grace.
But now, my children are doing well. They are moving forward. Charging forward.
God has redeemed so much and has brought them so far beyond their pain. He has enfolded them in His grace and filled them with the promise that His plan for their life is good. He has reached them and they have opened their hearts to Him in miraculous ways.
My own heart overflows for the changes I see in them but the process of that change has taken a toll. And now it is my turn. His eyes have turned toward me. Really they have always been on me too, but now I am aware.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am thankful and I am blessed and I am happy. Truly. But I am tired, I am weary, I am spent. Not because of my children or because of their pain or the journey God called us to walk with them. But because of my choices in dealing with just how hard it was. Because of my need for control and the avoidance of the depth of my own loss, grief and pain. The guilt of my mis-steps and lack of grace. Too long I have buried it all in distraction and busy-ness. Too many times I have come before Him broken and on my knees only to take back that which I was so desperate to give to Him. He has waited for me to bend just far enough and now He is calling me out. He is calling me to a season of change and renewal. And I am listening.
Lent. This year He is not asking me to give up a favorite food item, TV, wine or chocolate. No, He is asking for much more. He is asking me to dig deeper. He is calling me to give up SELF. To give Him the pieces of me that I still cling to, hide behind, wallow in, make excuses for.
I will spend the next forty days committed to a pattern of change, committed to live more intentionally. Directed and purposeful. Proactive instead of reactive. Refreshed and not tired. Renewed and not weary. Listening for His voice to tell me what is mine and giving over what He claims as His.
I will sleep more.
I will eat more that is green.
I will eat less that is white.
I will drink more water.
I will exercise more.
I will deepen my prayer life and devote more quiet time to Him. I will rise to meet Him every morning and not find a reason why I am too busy or too tired.
I will make no excuses.
I will be slow to anger.
I will watch my tongue.
I will guard my thoughts.
I will remember that while I am a mom, I am a wife too.
I will fast. Over the past ten years, I have walked closer and closer to God but I have never fasted in prayer. Never. He is asking me to start.
I will rid myself of all that I have taken up that He has not asked of me. I will clear the clutter and all that keeps me too busy and distracts me from Him.
And when I am done, when He is finished. I will celebrate that He is Risen. That He lives. And that I too am alive again.