Well, here we are. Lent 2016. A year ago I took on a personal challenge to write every day of Lent with the My First Lent series. It was a positive experience and one I had hoped would stick me the rest of the year. Alas, like most Lenten disciplines… just like you started eating chocolate again and you started drinking coffee or beer again, well, I stopped writing regularly.
For a couple dozen reasons, some valid and some just outright excuses, I slowly neglected writing throughout the rest of 2015. I was too busy, I homeschool three kids, I am my own worst critic, I played video games instead of writing, I sat paralyzed by fear looking at the keyboard, I let anxiety and depression win the day. Yeah, all those excuses and more.
I thoroughly enjoyed the discipline of writing daily last year. Much of what I wrote was probably rubbish, but the actual exercise of putting words to screen was good for my soul. After all, I wasn’t writing for you, the reader, I was writing as spiritual discipline, as a way to take on something that I hoped would focus my mind on Lent and the season leading up to Easter. It worked. I read the Bible regularly, I might have even prayed, and I found myself focusing on more spiritual things.
This year, along with a couple things I’m fasting from (which I’m keeping private, as a fast is truly between self and God), I’m again taking on the daily discipline of writing. However, I feel my focus should be somewhat different this year. Last year, after leaving the Baptist evangelical tradition I had known my entire life, I had found myself in an Anglican church. I had much to learn about Lent and liturgy and the ancient traditions and trappings of this Holy season in the church.
But this year, I feel the need to examine myself more. Examine my faith, examine my beliefs, examine who I have become over the last few years of intense personal change. Lent is based upon the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. During this time Jesus found clarity and the strength he needed before starting his ministry. Think about it, Jesus found himself on the cusp on significant change in his life. He was no longer just going to be a carpenter. Jesus knew his ministry and his calling was about to transform his life, so he retreated to the wilderness. Yes, he was tempted, as we know from the text, but he fasted and prayed and meditated and came out with clarity and purpose.
So this year, I want to get further clarity on why I believe what I believe. I want to explore topics and beliefs. I’m going to try to keep a spiritual focus throughout it all. And mainly, I’m just going to write. It’s great therapy for me and has always helped me work through issues in my life.
As always, what I’m writing is for me. God’s got you on your own journey. I share pieces of my journey in the hopes that maybe it might help you, encourage you, or provoke you to thought. Lent is a great time to refocus our lives. It’s a time to examine our lifestyles and listen to the still small voice of the Spirit. During this season, I hope you find God’s peace in your own life.
Today’s Lenten Scripture:
Psalm 103:8-14 (NLT)
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.