This month Christians and other Deity devoted denominations began celebrating Lent. Traditionally, Lent is the forty days before Easter. It is symbolic of the Biblical account of Jesus’ journey into the wilderness to fast and pray for forty days in preparation for His temptations by the Devil, His suffering in the garden of Gethsemane, His cruel crucifixion and His exalted resurrection; which also leads us to the celebration we know as Easter. During Lent a person will choose to give up something of significant value in their lives--or something that may not really be valuable, but which a person has placed a value on. It is a personal and usually private sacrifice not only to increase piety, but to remind oneself that to truly live a more excellent life there are things that must be chosen to be left behind to achieve it--bad habits, sweets, laziness, poisonous people, places and patterns that are unhealthy and unworthy of our time and energy. They choose to sacrifice them, at least for forty days, so they can excel and learn to live a better, healthier, and happier life.
This pious performance of penitence takes patience and it is not always a piece of cake; but isn’t that the point? We are each choosing to purposefully deny ourselves of those things of a lesser value in our lives (unworthy, worldly things) so that we may obtain things of a higher value (Heavenly, or Godly things). Remember that these forty days aren’t just meant to be a transition of time, but a transformation of our lives. This period of change is not about having less for forty days, but so we can have more peace and happiness in our lives the other 325 days and for the rest of our lives. After all, we all want to be better people, parents, protectors, leaders, teachers, citizens and servants and to do so we must be faithful to who we are during our times of plenty and during the famine phases of our lives.
Whatever phase you find yourself experiencing today, I encourage and challenge each of you to take time for real reflection about the direction you are living your life. See if you are truly seeking out the more excellent and exalting experiences. Are there things you can do differently, or even give up—for more than forty days? I know it’s not easy to keep looking up and moving forward when there seems to be so many distractions and destructions from our pasts to decoy and detour us from living a better present. It can be easy to lose sight of who we are and where we’re going if we only focus on where we’ve been. I’ve found that focusing on my direction, not my perfection, or imperfections, allows me to continue moving forward, even with life’s frustrations, detours and dead-ends.
Even for those of us who don’t observe Lent these principles can have an inspired impact on the quality of our relationships and lives. And we need all the help we can get because these days it seems to be increasingly difficult to live the lives we want to live, let alone enjoy them. Some days we barely have the strength to get out of bed, while other days it seems we’ve found the fountain of youth and we wish those moments could last forever. No matter how many moments remain in our lives, by living the lessons learned from Lent we can empty our pockets of life’s lint and our hearts of life’s hurts and fill them back up with true treasures and more fulfilling adventures. It’s time for making a new commitment to expel anything that is weighing us down, holding us back and keeping us from reaching our own resurrections of our dreams, our joys and to restore hope in our futures. Let us each strive to thrive, not just survive and to choose to live a more excellent life every day!