With sweaty hair, a backpack, and a running jacket, I intentionally had ash spread on my forehead for the first time tonight. Today is the first day of Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday. And before tonight, I couldn’t really tell you what it was.
For years I heard that people used this time to give something up, create something to tell others like a New Year’s Resolution. No chocolate, no caffeine, no swearing. But…..why?
Until today I have never once celebrated Ash Wednesday. It’s kind of a somber event to celebrate in reality: the start of Jesus’s 40-day temptation and fasting in the desert. But I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know the world and everything about this event, because that would be a lie.
What I do know is from what I learned tonight, something that really resonated with me:
"Jesus didn’t ask me to give up coffee or chocolate specifically. He didn’t. He asked me to give my life to him, my whole life." - Justin, The District Church (DC)
When Jesus was in the desert, tempted and tried, it says at the end of the 40 days that he was physically weak but spiritually strong. How often do I want and wish to be physically strong? ALL the time, especially with my newfound love of November Project Baltimore and wanting to keep up with all of the other muscular friends I have. But how often do I wish to be spiritually strong? That’s not usually one of my daily prayers or hopes for the day.
Lent is not to a time to give something up to do it for the sake of losing weight or trying to be healthier or smarter or whatever. You could give nothing up. It, instead, is using this 40-day even more intentionally reflection period to go to God - plain and simple. But most of the time I feel inadequate, because of my motives or my forgetfulness or [insert feeling here].
The thing is that We can’t, but God CAN. So often do I think I can do it all on my own. But there’s a simple answer: I can’t. I can’t do it. And that’s okay. Because I’m not supposed to do it alone. I can’t, but God can. So when I fast or pray, it’s not supposed to be easy, but it is supposed to draw me closer to Our Father and giving more of my life to Him. So if that means ‘giving up’ a sort of luxury in order to focus more of my time on His presence, then I will.
During these forty days, my prayer is that I become physically AND spiritually strong, not just physically. I want to break through this Lent period more focused, centered, and connected with God than ever before. But the thing is is that alone I cannot, but God can.
If you have questions about my Lent challenges and/or want to know more, my door is always open.
Sometimes I look at myself from the outside and think, “Wow are you taking on too much?”
But then I think that I’m too damn excited about all of this and life, and I shut my 3rd party self up.