As a baptized Catholic and practicing Anglican, Lent is a season I look forward to every year.
If you are unfamiliar with Lent, it’s a 40-day period leading up to Easter Sunday. It begins on Ash Wednesday and continues for six weeks. The 40 days is symbolic of when Jesus went out into the desert to fast and pray before starting his ministry.
This time we spend taking part in Lent should be a time of prayer, penance, repentance, and abstinence. Symbolic of Jesus’ time in the desert.
This is where I typically lose people. These words seem to rub people the wrong way. Particularly the last three words: penance, repentance, and abstinence. And rightly so, because the definition of these three words is quite harsh.
Let me share with you how these three words relate to today’s landscape. More importantly, how spending time in these areas of your life will prove to be beneficial.
I see penance as a self-examination of myself and my behavior. I know I’m not perfect, and I make mistakes. Spending time in introspection allows me to examine who I am as a wife, a sibling, a daughter and a friend. Am I happy with my behavior? If I’m not happy, what can I do to improve and show the people around me more love?
This means recognizing something in your life that may not be aligned with your true self. Once you realize it – you then make the decision to turn away from this way of life. This could be as simple as a behavior you know you shouldn’t continue doing. A good example is something called triangulation. This is when you are having an issue with someone and you talk about it with somebody else. This is basically gossip and usually magnifies the problem and can become very toxic.
When I was young, I would observe Lent with my grandmother. We would give up foods we loved. Popcorn, soft drink, chocolate. Whatever we loved as we wanted it to be a sacrifice to show God our love. As an adult, this word represents something different for me. I ask myself – what things in my life am I dependent on? What are things in my life taking me away from my goals rather than moving me forward? Television? Social Media? Caffeine? Alcohol? Should I stop consuming one or more of these things? Will it improve the quality of my life and move me closer to my goals? Usually, the answer to this is Yes – which means I should consider abstaining for a while. Take control of my life again.
Looking at these three words with a different lens – doesn’t it make you look forward to the self-improvement? Penance encourages self-examination. Repentance shows you how to turn away from something toxic. Abstinence gives you control back from something that has been consuming your life.
You don’t have to wait for Lent to spend time in these areas of your life. Do it when you’re ready. Review and ponder what is holding you back from living the life you crave. A life of peace and happiness. A life of purpose.
My parents are not religious at all, and when I asked my mother why she baptized me, she said it was the right thing to do. Both being in their early twenties, the Catholic tradition offered guidance as they raised their children.
Growing up attending a Catholic elementary school opened the doors to a life of faith. I have both fond and not so fond memories. During my teenage years, I didn’t think I needed a religion and attended a public high school.
The importance of God became less and less in my life.
After finishing university and beginning the first stages of adult life – reality hit.
Life was hard. Relationships were hard. I was having a hard time dealing. Life was spiraling out of control. I was making the wrong choices and before I realized it I was full of shame and disappointment.
Then people started dying. Five people in my life died in a 2 year period. For a variety of reasons, from young to old. In my mind and in my heart I knew there had to be a higher purpose of living on this earth.
And that’s how my journey to faith as an adult began. I questioned the purpose of life – questioned Christianity – questioned everything.
I’m not a theologist, but I do have experience losing faith, having doubts and finding faith again. I’ve experienced something supernatural that proved to me there is a God. A God who loves us unconditionally.
Over the last few years, I’ve had friends ask me how I apply my faith to my everyday life. Sometimes its hard to share verbally, so I’ve chosen to write it down instead.
My hope is through this blog, I will able to share my process of how I got to where I am today in my faith. I will offer resources, ideas, suggestions for you to try in your life.
My journey toward faith is changing daily. As I dive into scripture and meditate, I’m learning more about this a divine power. Yes, this divine power we have access to – we just need to learn how to connect with it.