Here we are, one week into the Lenten Journey and I want to encourage those of you that are starting new practices, or giving up something, or maybe still deciding. It is not too late to start something new or even to join a Lenten Small Group as there are a few still open. But Lent is about the Journey, not winning the “Best Attendance” award. Meaning, God is not scoring points on you and on your performance over these next 5 weeks. God just wants you to know God on a deeper level and to come to know yourself and others in a more authentic way.
I thought it would be helpful if I shared what I have taken on and given up this season. My Lenten Small Group that meets on Thursday afternoons already knows this, but I have chosen to give up “the need to control.” Notice I didn’t say, Control. As a Mom, Wife, Pastor and Friend, there will be things I still need to control for safety, health and boundary reasons. But my NEED TO CONTROL comes from something deep within me that does not go with the flow as much as I could. I worry about my reputation or how others will see me, and quite possibly judge me if I lose control over a situation. I realize that those feelings come from my ego and aren’t necessarily God-honoring.
What I have taken on this year is a bit more measurable. I heard this from a Clergy friend of mine and completely stole it, but it is to take a walk outside every day. There is no time limit on it, but so far, one week in, this has been a wonderful practice for me. One day, I was able to walk a beautiful path to and from Lake Howell at a retreat center (see pictures below) and I read Scripture along the way. I have also enjoyed walking my kids to our neighborhood park now that they are both avid bike riders. One afternoon I took a walk down Park Ave. on some important church business and last night, I chatted with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost 8 years as we walked in the rain together.
What this practice is teaching me, is to notice the details. To pay attention to what I would normally drive by or not notice in my rush. What this practice is teaching me is that my body is a Temple and that walking is good for my Temple and that there are many people for whom walking for 20 minutes straight is out of the question and so I give God thanks that my body can do that kind of activity. Lastly, this practice is about the deep breathing that happens when I am not reading emails, checking social media, making calls and in “work” mode. I am just listening and walking and paying attention to my breath. And that is helping me slowdown in this busy season and to appreciate all the good that God has given me. I use the time to pray for our world, to pray that my children won’t go too fast on their bikes or at least remember how to stop when they do, I pray for my neighbors and for our church.
This is simply what has worked for me over this last week. But I encourage you to find your own practice, your own rhythm, your own journey, then let us know how we can encourage you in it.
I invite you to pray a new prayer with me this week as you focus on the Journey of loving God and loving yourself more.
“Oh God, help me believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is!”
Prayer by Macrina Weiderkehr