Here we are in the second full week of Lent. How is it going? Many of us try to give up something that our appetites desire. Some take on an additional discipline. The Church asks us to take up the disciplines of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. Lent is a time to deepen our relationship with our Lord. It is not a feeling but an act of the will. In many ways it is like a marriage relationship. In a relationship with our spouse, it is only the will to love them that makes a difference what course of action is going to help both of you make it through rough times.
Often we don’t do anything because we are afraid, worried or have anxiety about doing something. The message of the Gospel over and over is “Do not be afraid!” I recently read on an email about marriage that fear is an emotion that paralyses us into doing nothing. Anxiety is being nervous about something that is not in our control. Worry is dwelling on something chronically, yet no action is taken.
We often, just like with our spouse, get angry over situations. God is not being fair. God is giving me a bum hand. Why did God let this happen? Often the question needs to be answered with a question: Did He? So often we find ourselves in the middle of something we have participated in creating. It may be an argument; it may be poor economic conditions choices to spend when there was nothing to spend. It can also be things that are out of our control and we don’t like what that means—the world economy-the breaking down of the physical body-a tragic event that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. These out of our control situations are most convenient to blame God.
Isn’t that what Lent is about? To help us learn and understand there is no “I” but a “we” in our relationship with God. Just like in a marriage, the question is not what I want out of this relationship but what do we want; what is best for us and the family; what is God calling us to do or be? On a radio station the other day I heard a pastor say: If God is your co-pilot, who is flying the plane? God should be the pilot in our lives and not the other way around. Lent is a time for us to examine ourselves and check our egos at the door.
Are we addicted to satisfying the appetites of the body? Too much food? Not the right kind of nutrition- sex, drugs, sugar, drinks are some examples? Are we filling our minds with Godly things rather than things of the world—too much TV, pornography, fantasies? Are we listening to what God is telling us or are we distracted by worry, anxiety, fear, business, and distractions? You see that the only time the word “I” should be used in Lent is when we take a hard look at our lives and accuse ourselves of the things we have done and left undone that have broken our marriage and relationship with God. He is faithful but we tend to go astray.
So Lent is actually a love journey. It is not a time to blame the other in the relationship. It is time we are to see how short we have come up, not the other way around. God is God and we are his creatures and the sheep of his hand. God is always living up and fulfilling his side of the promise and covenant he has made. The question is are we? Are we loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength or are we just giving him a bit here and there? This is a commandment for Christians, not a choice or option although God will always respect what choice we have made. May this Lent be a time to help us love God more and deepen our relationship with Him.