Lent is a very special time for introspection and analysis of our spiritual habits and relationships. It can be a most profound journey into the depths of our soul if we allow ourselves to be focused and determined. Getting started can often be the hardest step. Some may not even have taken any steps yet and here we are already approaching Holy Week. We can simply start by asking Jesus to show us where we need to make changes, or what in our character needs fine tuning. Then, if we sit in the silence and listen with an open mind (and soul), He will show us. It might not be what we expect or even want to hear, or it might be what we already knew we would hear. None of that really matters because, regardless, it will be exactly what we need to hear. Big or small, easy or hard, it will be exactly what He wants us to concentrate on, especially during Holy Week.
There are far too many areas I struggle with and need to continuously work on. At the very root of them all is self. So my own personal desire and goal for every Lenten season is to turn self out in order that I may offer myself completely to Jesus to be used wherever He desires. To help me work on this, I have created for myself the following list of temptations/sins and alternative reactions and/actions to help guide me in times of temptation. Because I fail so miserably, I need to check in on it every so often to reset my intentions. It might give you some ideas of what particular areas you might want /need focus on over the next week.
1. Pride in looks, clothing, actions, etc.? – Ask myself why and who it is I am trying to impress? Any other answer than Jesus is wrong.
2. Greed or materialism? – Aim for simplicity of life. Declutter; get rid of something I am hoarding. Review my alms giving and make sure it is not from excess but rather from the first fruits of my finances. Jesus must be at the top of my budget.
3. Gossip or speaking ill of others? – Build that other person up. My words must be as if Jesus is speaking about that person through my mouth.
4. Negativity? – Focus on the good all around me and in me. I must train my eyes to see the good. I must train my eyes to look for and see Jesus in everyone and everything, even myself.
5. Self-centeredness? – Put someone else first. I must give of myself to someone else. I must follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice.
6. Anxiety (Stress) or Perfectionism? – I must accept something as is. I must have faith that Jesus is in control. I must loosen my tight grip on every minute detail and offer it up to Jesus.
7. Judging others? – Bless them instead. I must lift others up to the Lord and ask His blessing on them in all things. I must pray to be humble like Jesus.
8. Too busy? – Sit at the foot of The Cross. I must spend time in stillness before God. I must stay with Him until I no longer feel the world in control, until I am absorbed in Jesus.
These are just some of the many ways I need to work at turning out self this Lent. Change is often difficult and growth can sometimes be painful, yet I know my efforts will be rewarded, for Jesus is ever at my side.
Ask Jesus to show you areas in your own life that need improvement and how you can do so successfully. Allow Him to be your loving guide this Lent on a more profound journey to the depths of your soul. Your efforts will certainly be greatly rewarded. He only asks for our effort, not perfection.
Blessings on your Faith and Lenten Journey everyone.