Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Unseen Lent


When I first looked at the idea of Lent this year, I really struggled with wanting to do something, yet not wanting to feel hypocritical about it. I had a lot of friends on my blog, Twitter, and FB share their thoughts and ideas. It was so helpful to hear all of the different perspectives.

Then, on Ash Wednesday, I went to a new church, and the reading was exactly what I needed to hear.

Matthew 6:1-6

Showy Religion
1 “Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.  2 “Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.

Showy Prayer
 5 “When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. 6 But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.

I took this from the Common English Bible, and I love the headings of "Showy Prayer" and "Showy Religion." Because I think that's the part that was really bothering me about the whole Lent thing. I'm kind of fed up with the Christians who are out there sounding their trumpets about how great they are that the works of Christ are almost invisible to anyone watching.

So I chose a secret Lent project. Interestingly enough, a comment from one of my nonbeliever friends about Lent got me thinking about how I wanted to honor God in this time, and I'm doing something based on this person's advice. I did end up telling hubby my project, because I needed his help on something, and it's been great to conspire with him to do what I'm doing in secret. In some ways, I feel closer to my husband than ever, because I have this wonderful secret that I share with him, and him only. Some days, I think that I will tell people about it when I'm done, because I truly believe that this thing is transforming my heart in unexpected ways. I want to share it with people who might be able to use it in their own lives. And other days, I am so full of the joy of having this beautiful thing that I share only with my husband and God, and am so mindful of the warnings in Matthew 6, that I don't want to lose it.

For now, I want to encourage you to find a glorious secret- something that is wonderful and brings joy to your heart- to share with God and God alone. Or, like me, with your spouse. While I believe that sharing your faith can be a very good thing, there is something very magical about reserving a private place in your heart just for God.

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Do you want to win a copy of the leather-like Thinline Bible DecoTone Tan/Brick Red edition of the Common English Bible? I'm participating in a blog tour promoting this new translation, and I will be giving away a copy each week through Pentecost. Just comment on my posts featuring the CEB, and you'll be entered in that week's drawing. Unfortunately, people outside the US are not eligible to win.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Letting go of plans

Isn't that just how life goes sometimes?
I started out this week with awesome intentions, and even started making a great blog calendar. And then, I kinda sorta... fizzled out. Life is just sort of getting in the way, and I called a time out on myself. I've been catching up on my reading in my wonderful new tub.

But I've also been doing a lot of giving myself permission to let it go. To shrug, say, "that wasn't my plan, but that's okay," and move on. 

My checklist is great, and I can use it for a lot of great things, but I'm also learning the greatness of letting go. "Darn" may not seem like a big deal to you, but for me, it's been kind of a freeing thing. I can accept that it's a bummer that things haven't gone quite as I'd hoped, but I don't have to go to the doldrums of being incredibly disappointed in myself that I'm not able to handle everything on my plate.

I think part of it is because of the realization that even though things in my life seem pretty hard right now, there are a lot of other people who are so worse off. That if I were to unload my problems, they'd look at me, say, "Darn. That's a bummer. Let me tell you about some real problems," and have absolutely no sympathy for me. That's not to diminish the significance of anything in my life, because to me, it is real, and it is important. But it makes it easier to let go, and move on.

Is there something you need to say, "darn," to?