What am I going to do for Lent? How about you try to #FeelTheZeal?
March 6, 2019. That is when it all begins. Ash Wednesday. Another season of Lent. Just what to do. What am I going to do for Lent this year? I could give up chocolate. But is that what God wants? Is that what this is all about? I time to see if I have the willpower to go without chocolate for a few weeks? Or is it really about something more? What if we took this time to really think about what we want out of life? Why are we here on this earth? What is our purpose? Who am I, exactly? And what type of person should I be? What values should be important? Which people should I care about? Why do I get out of bed each morning?
I use a clip in a class I teach of the Austrian psychologist, Viktor Frankl, when he discusses this very question. (You can see the video by clicking here.) In this clip, Frankl tells about his learning to fly. When faced with a crosswind, blowing from the north, if the pilot does not compensate for it, the plane will drift south, not arriving at where it intends to be. It is only by flying on a more northerly route that the plane winds up where it should be. Frankl says, “You know who has said this, ‘if we take man as he is we make him worse, but if we take man as he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be.”
This is another way of speaking about how God saves us. We live in a world of sin. We see horrible actions all around us. Even we sin. But God sent us the ideal man, his son who is both God and human. When we sinned, our nature became corrupted, like a file can be on a computer. But Jesus did not wish to leave us in this state, so by his suffering and dying on the cross, he raised up our fallen nature, showing us what we could become if we accept his grace.
So think about this in terms of Lent. What if you thought more about what you could be? In other words, what if you aimed higher? What if you thought about getting to the destination God wants for you? Are you ready to take off? Are you ready to become who it is you were meant to be? That is what Lent is all about.
The Church gives a focus for Lent, three categories, so to speak, to help us think about how we can become better: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Each of these is designed to help us enter into a relationship with Jesus more deeply.
How can these things help us to imagine us as we can be, and so make possible the person we can become? That is the purpose of the rest of what will be written.
To become the person we were created to be requires a little bit (and maybe even more than a little bit) of thought and reflection. It is no wonder that each of the gospels presented for the first Sunday of Lent are a version of Jesus being tempted in the desert. He must affirm the will of God by rejecting what keeps him from doing that will. And so it is with us.
So, get ready. This season of Lent could be an amazing time of fulfillment and promise.
Some questions to consider:
- What type of person do I wish to become?
- What keeps me from being the person I wish to be?
- What expectations do I have for myself?
- What does God expect from me?
- How do I meet these expectations?
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
Lent. 2019. #FeelTheZeal