It’s been a very long time since I last wrote a post. I can promise that this one won’t be a work of brilliance, just a few of my personal thoughts as we enter the season of Lent.
Over this past week I was thinking about all of the things I could possibly fast from or “give up” for Lent. I kept coming up with things like: TV, soda, deserts, Facebook, etc… All of these things sounded great but I honestly felt as if I wasn’t being called to “give up” anything physical. Now you may be thinking, “what is wrong with you? Sacrificing something is supposed to call you to rely on God.” While I totally agree I feel as if, for me personally, my life has been much too focused on the negative lately. Everyday I wake up and structure my life upon what I shouldn’t do: don’t watch too much TV, don’t each too much junk food, don’t drink soda, don’t spend too much time of FB, don’t forget to study, don’t skimp on exercise… I have found that over the past year I’ve focused so much on the DO NOT’s that I have forgotten to reward myself and thank God for the wonderful things that I have been a part of.
With all of that said, instead of “giving up” something physical for Lent. I’ve decided to focus a more positive light on my life and replace feelings of condemnation with more time spent remembering God’s grace. In a manner of speaking, I’m “giving up” negativity (DONTs) and replacing it with positivity (DOs). I want to spend more time in prayer and energy building my relationship with God. Instead of telling myself DON’T do something to grow closer to God, I’m telling myself do DO something to grow closer to God.
I watched a TED Talk once about the power of positive psychology. Being a budding psychologist myself I was interested in this line of thinking. The idea of positive psychology is less focused on the things you should have done better but more focused on congratualing yourself when you accomplish a goal or task that is difficult for you. From a Christian perspective, I’ve interpreted this as thanking God for giving you the guidence and the tools to accomplish whatever it is that was difficult. Basically, take the time you spend limiting yourself with DO NOTs and replace it with the more positive DOs. Your next question may be “okay, that sounds wonderful, but how do I do that?”
Luckily, “how” is something that everyone can find out for themselves. I went through a time in my life when things were very dark. All I could ever do was punish myself for all the ways I’d done wrong. The negativity and darkness took over my entire existence, all I did was live and breath self-condemnation. The process out of that was a long one but, along the way, I learned many tools to cope with the grasp of negativity. My favorite is to write myself affirming post-it notes. I would take a moment at the end of each day to write down things I had done well, i.e. studied hard for an exam, got some exercise, remembered to smile… These things may seem simple but, at the end of the day, we all go through seasons of drought. Seasons were it becomes a chore to even get out of bed and face the day.
I realize that my words an opinions may not be the best path for everyone. I think that fasting is a wonderful way to connect with God, just as Jesus did in the desert. But I warn that if fasting is done with a negative heart instead of a positive one, you could be destroying the work God is trying to do in you.
Whatever season you are in, either a positive one or a negative one. Find a way to connect with God that is going to do the most to heal and challenge your spirit. Don’t feel pressured to “give up” things if you think it will cause you more self-condemnation than spiritual growth. Pray for God’s guidance and seek earnestness with Him. Know that all our Lord wants to do is to spend time with you, whether that is through time you’ve sacrificed from TV or moments when you feel like all you can do is tell yourself what you’ve done wrong. Take that time and spend it with the Creator of the Universe.
This is an abstract concept, and I’m no philosopher and theologian. Please let me know if you have questions.
*I know this is riddled with typos but I hope you’ll have grace with me.
Blessings this Lenten season,