Lent is nigh.
I always do this, make resolutions at the time when everyone else makes resolutions. Although, this is something that I like about myself, that I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions; instead I make Lenten commitments.
This year, I’m doing the same thing, only different.
My understanding of Lent has always been that it’s a time to refrain from normal things, pleasures, indulgences, fun things, convenient things. I do this so as to clear my mind, clear my soul, so as to pursue God with greater clarity. The idea is to make these 40 some days a short season of sacrifice and discipline for the purpose of reflection, learning and growth.
I do want to reflect, clarify purpose, learn and grow.
But for me, Lent has always been about abstaining.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from connecting to the Recovery community, being in my own recovery process and working as an Addictions counselor, it’s that abstinence is never a complete process on its own.
For ever evil thing you remove from your life, you must replace it with something good, or else another evil thing will find its home in your life again.
The one demon will return with seven more.
So I’m doing Lent differently this year. I’m not giving anything up.
Instead, I’m adding something in.
I’m committing to a thorough and daily reading of the Gospels. Everyday, I resolve to read and to journal about what I read. And if, when I have completed my task, there is still time in the day, I will enjoy what ordinary life pleasures I may. But if I have not completed my task that day, then I will likewise abstain from the pleasure.
The idea is that this new good thing should become my priority, my focus. Perhaps even the thing I love. Perhaps if there are things in my life that are unhealthy, or even truly evil, I should give them up. But I will more effectively leave them behind if I am actively falling in love with something else.
Some One else.
And that is the crux of this season for me. I recognize that I have become jaded, cynical, angry. I have embraced a fluid belief system so much so that I have become ungrounded. I have endeavored to align with enough different value systems that the result is a fragmented soul. I don’t really know who I am anymore and I feel sad and angry about this all the time.
The only solution that makes sense is to return to my first Love and the things I did the last time I felt a deep abiding peace.
I was unashamedly following Christ back then, over a decade ago.
Granted, I was a naive, sheltered, ignorant, home-school kid. I was probably carelessly racist, homophobic, transphobic; my approach to life was neither empathic, nor trauma informed. I knew nothing about social justice. Basically, I knew nothing about the world and thought I was better than everyone.
Well, I repent of all that. The last decade has been enriching. I’ve grown up, seen the world for what it really is, seen the church for who She really is.
I want to return to Christ, but I don’t want to return to the immature kid that I was.
So everything that follows will be something new.
Lent is nigh.