I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
Lent – a time to repent; to look at things in our lives that we know are not in alignment with God. A time when we focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God and leading up to the Resurrection of our Lord. My question is why just during Lent? Growing up I couldn’t comprehend why people were always giving something up during this time. I understood from the Bible why we did. What I couldn’t understand was why we didn’t just live our lives this way all the time.
Having grown up in a strict Catholic house, attended both a Catholic elementary school as well as a Catholic High School, I was around these teachings. So, we can live the rest of the year doing things that are not in alignment with God but for these 40 days we are going to live closer to God? I watched as people “gave up” things for Lent and then returned to doing those things as soon as Easter was over. My dad was a smoker; he “gave up” smoking for Lent which in turn meant he drank too much. By the time Easter arrived my mother was begging him to return to smoking. I saw this year after year. When I asked these questions as to the real “why” people did these things, I never received what I felt was a clear answer.
As I grew, I decided that I wasn’t going to “give up” something for Lent (when I was younger, my parents insisted that I did). Instead I decided I was going to live my life as though all year was Lent. I adopted positive thoughts and set goals for myself all year; not just for Lent. I knew I was human and, of course, made many mistakes. Always in the back of my mind was that now famous saying “What would Jesus do?” If, as I was taught, I was to live my life as Jesus would want, why would I do things that I had to “give up” at a certain time of year only to return to them? Is that what God wants us to do? I don’t think so.
In order to feel closer to God, we should be striving to be like God 365 days a year. This includes our minds, body, and soul. The Bible tells us to treat our bodies as temples, our thoughts should be good, and we should listen to really hear the messages from our soul – messages from The Holy Spirit. I don’t believe that this means doing these things only during the 40 days of Lent.
In Proverbs 31:12, we are told “She will do Him good and not evil all the days of her life.”
We are not perfect, but we are made in God’s image. Why would we not strive to do good “all the days of our lives,” as opposed to JUST 40 days out of the year? Yes, we should do something for those 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday in preparation for our Lord’s Resurrection. Giving up something should be more in reality, more of readying ourselves for our Lord, more prayer, more listening to God, and more of what is in alignment with God. All areas we are able to continue doing long after Easter Sunday.
“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” John 11:25
Thinking positively, setting realistic, and optimistic goals for ourselves should be on-going. Everyday. Why is that difficult? Because life is difficult. Or, we make it more difficult than it need be. Loving, trusting, and listening in the Lord only serves to make our lives easier. If you are experiencing difficult times, turn that over to God. Everything is in God’s timing. With God, everything is in our best interest. Embrace this. Believe this with your whole body, mind, and soul. We may never know why we experience difficult times but if we were to practice positive thoughts – examining what we are doing in our lives, having these questions at the forefront of our minds: “Is this in God’s best interest? Is this something God feels I should be doing? Is this a message from God?” – we empower ourselves to make clearer and better choices in our lives.
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