Ash Wednesday – it is a day to reflect on what I can ‘give up’ for 40 days in order to focus on the season of Easter and the Resurrection of Christ, as well as the time Christ spent in the wilderness. I have so many personal indulgences that it’s hard to choose. But I would like to give up something that might benefit the greater community.
There are moments that I feel in a wilderness place. The harshness of conversations, the sharp edges of people’s opinions, and the bleak view of where our communities, countries, and church are headed can be isolating. I am tempted to pull away and hide until it is over. Folks are dealing with heavy burdens daily, compounded by the anxiety that plays out in our larger communities. What can I refrain from this season that might have a positive impact?
I have decided that this Lent I will give up being judgmental. I will instead engage each person about their perspectives, ask honest questions, and patiently listen to their responses. I will lovingly inquire about the journey they have taken to their choices, and honor that I have much to learn from almost everyone. Giving up something I love is the standard practice for Lent, and I must admit that I may love my own opinion way too much.
And I have opinions about pretty much everything!
Jesus taught people to change their opinions and actions to more closely resemble him. Even his directions for change were given with loving words. That’s what I hope I will have accomplished by the time I reach Holy Week. That I may serve as an interested and open companion, and that I will pray for others in their journey with an openness to God’s leading, and that I can honor them in how they follow.
It’s good to leave the cozy safe place where everyone is like me and go into the wilderness of the world, but it is there that I will find people to love and serve and learn from. And I hope that by Easter my judgment muscle will have atrophied from lack of use, and I will have become a more supportive and empathetic companion and friend.
Prayers for each of us as we are liberated from something this season.