Yet even now return to me – return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping and mourning. Rend your hearts not your garments, and return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love… Joel 2:12-13
As we’re 5 days into lent I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about it. Lent kinda snuck up on me this year, so I didn’t do a lot of thinking about it before hand or preparing for it. I was kinda in denial that it was happening. Without much thought I made a simple decision for my lenten practice for this year.
In years past I’ve done varying things – giving up my coffee creamer so that if I was going to drink coffee I was drinking it black, last year I set limits on my daily television watching. One year I went to mass or adoration every day – that was hard, but probably one of the best seasons of my life. I’d say that probably set up the strong foundation I have now.
But this year the thought of lent overwhelmed me. Last weekend I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water because I was just questioning all of my life (it’s all fine now). But trying to decide what I was supposed to do for lent was hard, largely because it seemed like a lot to take on much else. I mean this whole RN orientation, transition to professional adult is challenging enough. So I was trying to come up with something super simple that would lead me closer to the Lord, but wouldn’t overwhelm me. I settled on mass or adoration once a week. As a nurse I generally only work 3 days a week, I can pick one of the days that’s not a Sunday to make some time to go see Jesus in the Eucharist.
After making that decision, and hearing some of what other people were doing for lent I really started to question if I was doing enough. I caught myself starting to compare myself to other people – and for once, instead of it leading to a self-pity party it actually lead me to prayer and to digging deeper into what in my heart is preventing me from growing closer to the Lord.
What I quickly came to realize is that my “on a whim” decision to add time with Jesus in the Eucharist was a perfect, Holy Spirit guided decision. Because what’s keeping me from growing closer to God is that I haven’t been as intentional at carving out time to spend with Him. And by spending less time with the Lord, weeds have been able to grow in the garden of my heart, to blur the lines of truth and lies. It’s led me to have more negative thoughts, to beat myself up, to believe that I’m a failure and I’m not good enough, etc. So this lent, my hope is that by carving out a little more time to spend intentionally with the Lord there will be healing, there will be growth, and my heart will become more like His as I learn to love more with the love of the Lord.
As we enter into this first full week of lent I encourage you to ask the question of what is preventing me from growing closer to the Lord and what needs to be done to remove this obstacle?
May we allow this lenten season to be a time where we rend our hearts of pride, selfishness, comparison, sloth, gluttony, lust, envy, wrath, greed, etc. so that we may be drawn ever closer into the love and mercy of the Lord.