I am sure many of you are already aware that today is Ash Wednesday. My family isn’t particularly religious but I have also enjoyed observing Lent. There was a time in high school that I seriously considered seminary school. As time went on I discovered that faith was far more important to me than the organization of the church.
One of the biggest things I learned that stuck with me was the concept of a relationship with God being extremely personal and unique. To me that meant that showing up to church just wasn’t all that important. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the fellowship that is offered and I certainly appreciate the counsel and support that can be found in the church community. I guess for me it mostly came down to everything having a time and a place and being committed to pre-prescribed hours of worship just didn’t ultimately fit me.
Back to the topic at hand – Lent.
For all of us I suppose it means something a little different – no meat Fridays, a service I have always found particularly somber with an ashy mark of the cross, maybe it’s just that time before Easter your friends complain about the things they have given up or ‘can’t have’. For me it was always about giving something up in an attempt to understand the sacrifices made on our behalf … well at least as much as giving up something like chocolate can help us understand.
Unless you are new here, you know I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. This year Lent is another opportunity to do just that. My husband suggested that we give up coffee shops this year, which isn’t a terrible idea, but it left me feeling a little hollow. It really isn’t that big of a challenge and is probably better for my wallet than my spiritual wellbeing. In the past I have given things up that have been a major part of my life – the biggest two have been soda and meat. Both of those lasted past Lent and ended up being life style changes that lasted a year or longer.
I read something recently about suggestions for things to give up for Lent. One of them was giving up the fear of failure. The rationale provided was something like failing doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress. I struggle with being afraid of failing and being afraid of what others think of me and my beliefs and often avoid letting those things be common knowledge. So this felt like a great option – and maybe taking it to the next level, I’ll be able to let go of fear in multiple areas of my life. For me the idea of giving up fear of failure is actually much more important than the benefits I assume it will provide.
I hope that this Lent experience will provide me with the confidence in myself and essentially trust in God’s plans for me.