Thirty-Eight years of life for me as a Christian (no semantics here, I'll save it for another blog) and this is the very first time that I've practiced Lent.You see, I had this strong pull to do so and that usually means that God's got big plans in store for me, so I told my heart it's time to dance. I thought long and hard about what I should give up. Should it be my cell phone? Perhaps my daily dose of caffeine? Surely not chocolate. God loves chocolate... right? I spoke with a very dear friend of mine and she explained that it was better to give... than to give up. For Jesus, Lent represents his 40 days in the wilderness fighting the devils temptation. For us, Lent is more about saying "I understand your sacrifice and I Trust in You, Lord" I felt the Lord pull me into a slow waltz in that direction. I could volunteer more, but that didn't feel right. I didn't want to let Him down. He has, after all, given me everything. I went to my office and ran my fingers along the spines of the books on my bookshelves, thinking... praying. I stopped on one that I hadn't gotten around to reading. That instant, it all clicked into place. I knew that my focus would be on Joe. I knew in my heart that I haven't been the wife that Joe deserves in many ways. I was too quick to anger, too quick to scold him as I would my children. He is my husband and I needed to remind myself of that fact. I am a good wife, but I want to be an exceptional wife, a Godly wife.
The book was "The Love Dare" which is based on the Christian movie "Fireproof". To Fireproof a marriage is to build it to withstand anything. There are so many things pulling couples apart these days and without a strong foundation, mutual respect and a loving God, it is all too easy to lose sight of each other. It was so important and it was obviously something that God wanted me to work on but I was so afraid of not following through. After all, I'm terrible with resolutions, why would this challenge not end in failure? Then I remembered...
When you wholeheartedly take on a challenge with Jesus, he takes the lead. In all my worrying, I forgot the obvious. This isn't just me making a resolution. This is me saying to God, I can do this with His supernatural assistance. This is me saying that I have Faith in His ability to dance me through this. You see, I've felt this before. This isn't our first dance. When you cry out to Him in sincerity... When you can no longer dance alone... He steps in. No judgement, no demands... This is what He wants from us.
I am now in day six of my first Lent and I have this calm that has overtaken me. I have found myself smiling during an instant that would normally bring a frown. I am seeing things through new eyes and I've noticed myself following the steps with the children as well. The truth is my first thought was "This is too simple, I don't feel like I've sacrificed." I reflected on why I decided to choose my marriage to work on and I remembered the hurts, the anger... I saw my actions as a wife and mother. It was then that I realized that Jesus had taken the lead. There is even a difference in Joe, although he doesn't even realize that I'm doing all this. It seems that my opening myself up to the assistance of Jesus has opened up my family to His assistance as well. It's not that Jesus isn't always in my heart, of course, but the truth is we humans tend to have strong wills that like to lead instead of follow. I am so grateful to have had this dance.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient,
bearing with one another in love. —Ephesians 4:2 NIV
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
How precious also are Your thoughts to me. . . .
How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them,
they would outnumber the sand. —Psalm 139:17–18
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. -Proverbs 16:32