"In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves." ~ Frederick Buechner
Spending the 40 days of Lent each year pondering one’s life and faith is a wondrous thing. Spending the intentional time reconciling oneself to their sinful nature and their need for redemption is essential. Spending time in prayer and fasting is good for the soul.
Spending time differently by adding reading scriptures, working at a charity organization, or taking on some other self-reflective or activity is an important part of a Lenten Journey. Some of my friends and colleagues take on some very special projects during Lent – thereby giving up other things they might be doing during that time of service.
Spending time pondering life and faith during a time of sacrifice and denial can be amazingly renewing. Although giving something up you dislike already can be less inspiring – in my humble opinion. (A friend is giving up mean people, artichokes, and standing in line.) Many folks give up very significant things during Lent to remind themselves of the sacrifice needed to prepare for Easter still to come.
Asking oneself, as Buechner suggests, what it means to be oneself is good for the soul. But it can be a difficult thing to do.
Looking within is sometimes tough. Looking within means seeing the rawness of our sinfulness, the wounds of our mistakes, and the abject need of redemption and reconciliation in our lives. Looking within can bring us to a place of serious need … to examine our lives and to recommit to the journey of faith.
This Lent my prayer is that you take the time to look within, to evaluate what your life is about, and to find a way to see yourself differently when Easter Morning comes this year.
The time is now – to spend the next 40 days looking within. You might not like all that you see, but now is also the time to change that.
Asking what it means to be you as a person of faith can be tough but it can also be a gift. May your Lenten Journey of self-discovery be a blessed one. And may this season bring you closer to the One who created all that you are.