Lent begins today.
What is Lent? In very simplistic terms, Lent is a span of 40 days leading up to Easter. It is a season of reflection and preparation. Oftentimes people identify something to give up and perhaps a new discipline to begin during the season of Lent.
I did not grow up in a church that practiced Lent. Honestly, I didn’t know much about it until just a few years ago. However, I am convinced that there is much benefit from giving up little pleasures or silencing noises for a given period to prepare our souls for renewal.
We get distracted without even realizing it. Through the daily grind of life, we lose our focus on what’s important.
Pruning away the excess, the unnecessary things that absorb our attention isn’t always fun, but deep processing, cleansing, and restoration take place in our inner being as we clear away the distractions.
But to get to the next level, we need to do more than give up something. If we just remove something, without intentional planning, the empty space will fill with something else just as meaningless as what we gave up. It’s like removing a rock from the river. The space where the rock was immediately fills up again. Water rushes right in to fill the void. The same will happen in our lives.
So, in order to give our souls a chance to reach renewal, we need to selectively replace the noise with something restoring.
As an example, let’s say I’ve identified the news as noise in my life. I give up listening/watching/reading the news for a period. As soon as I decide to eliminate the news, I need to predetermine with what I'm going to fill my newly gained time. Otherwise, game shows or reality television may overtake the hours I previously spent watching the news. Will I have gained anything? Perhaps a little, if my only goal is to eliminate the negative feelings I experienced from watching the news. However, if I’m pursuing a greater return on my time and deeper quiet felt in my soul, I may gain more peace and calm by spending time in prayer or having a list of books to read or podcasts to listen to.
We don’t want to stop there, though. The purpose for refreshment is not only for our personal gain, but so that we can, in turn, bless others. It is only as we give back that we enjoy renewal in its fullness.
In recap, I'm going to leave you with this challenge:
1. Choose one "noise" to let go
2. Choose one way to drink deeply
3. Choose one way to give back
Before you begin, note how you feel. Especially note your level of joy and your level of stress.
Periodically throughout the 40 days, take an assessment and note any changes.
At the end of Lent, once again, ask yourself how you feel. Has anything changed? How dramatically?
The recommendations in the graphics throughout this post are only meant as suggestions to get you thinking. Think about what you need and make your selections deeply meaningful to you.
Enjoy the process as you Relax. Refresh. Renew.