Two years ago I felt like my life was a long season of Lent, trudging through desert wastelands, hoping for some relief along the way. As Ash Wednesday approached, it occurred to me that giving up something for Lent was exactly the wrong idea. Rather than moving myself more towards a fast, I needed to add something nourishing. The something I added was the commitment to take more initiative where I could. Using the phrase, "Jesus set his face towards Jerusalem" from Luke 9 as my mantra, I decided to exercise the free will I had to make a decision every day. I was worn out, but the choice to choose kept me from plunging into depression.

It's easy, I think, to view Christianity as a set of negations. When I was growing up as a teenager, it seemed as if people were eager to tell you you couldn't do something, but rarely offered a healthy or life-giving alternative. If instead of worrying about getting rid of things, we consider what we would like to add - not so much "not being" as "becoming" -things might be a bit easier. Adding in the good makes less room for the not-so-good, while focusing on the best will make it even possible to drop what is good.

During this Lenten season, I'm choosing to add more hope to my life. "Love hopes all things," says Paul in his famous chapter on love sent to the Corinthian church. If I am intent on following the path of Jesus towards love, then being filled with hope will only help in my journey. As a way of keeping me on track, I'll be taking the Wednesday posts until Easter to blog about hope.

Maybe the language of acquisition rather than deprivation will put a different spin on your Lenten observance this year. Giving up chocolate as a means of adding self-control might still be the right idea, but only if you desire self-control as a means of loving yourself and others more or better. It might be more helpful to seek to be more generous; while looking for extra money to do so, the morning Starbucks latte might seem a good place to start. 

How do you want to become more like Christ, more full of his love? Let that be the guiding question as you ponder how best to enter into Lent. The Spirit of Christ will show you and then give you what you need to follow her lead.
2/22/2012 08:57:17 am

hope!

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