My bedroom is in a similar state as my soul. Messy, cluttered, and kind of driving me insane. The thing is both situations are entirely my fault.
Instead of hanging up my clothes, they have become a mountain covering my ottoman. Generally, I forget I even have an ottoman and I’ve become increasingly convinced that most of the things in there mustn’t be very important if I never need to access them. Stacks of unopened letters and papers I should file away add a bit of an overwhelming sense to a place I often use for refuge. Boxes that need to be broken down for recycling, laundry that ought to be done, and stacks upon stacks of books make my bedroom chaotic.
My soul? Pretty much the same situation.
There is a great deal of clearing out that needs to happen. Scripture says to make a highway for Our Lord. But first, I think I need a plow to come through. So it is with a heart that loves simplicity yet finds itself attached to abundance that I eagerly head into Lent.
I need Lent.
I need a time of intentionally striving to conform my will to God’s will. Yes, I know this is supposed to be the path of the ordinary Christian life. Lent, however, is a time to dive into that more fully. Left unattended, my will becomes the predominant force in my life. I thought about going for a run the other day and I didn’t because it sounded a little uncomfortable. Taking a shower this morning, I turned the water to warm-hot and my little “sacrifice” was not nudging the faucet a little further so it was pleasantly hot.
In several occasions lately, I have realized that my will needs to be reigned in and broken a bit. Gently. By a Shepherd who isn’t nearly as harsh with me as I would be with myself. Rather, One with wounds in His hands and a beckoning to come follow Him, to the cross and to a truly abundant life. A life filled with virtue, joy, and love–an abundance that doesn’t create chaos or clutter.
Lent is a time of refocusing on the Lord. Every extra thing we do or thing we give up should be oriented toward a deeper relationship with the Lord. Last year, I gave up coffee. It was a good exercise in recognizing that what I give up shouldn’t make me more prideful. The cross of ashes that I was sealed with this morning calls us to embrace the reality that we are sinners in need of redemption. With that acknowledgement comes the need to admit that I am weak and I need the Lord.
This beautiful penitential season is to be appreciated, not feared or avoided. Jesus said the gate to Heaven is narrow and few make it. I need this time of penance to be stripped of what is unnecessary and to focus on the Lord. If I become small, I might fit through the “eye of the needle” and live the freedom of a life in Christ.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.