Just before Ash Wednesday, I posted what I was giving up – or at least attempting to – for Lent: shame, inaction, defensiveness, withdrawal, and despair. All of these weighty realities were negatively affecting my relationship with God and my interactions with others, and my denial had been so thoroughly obliterated by the political and cultural battles of the last election cycle that it was high time to wrestle with each of these monsters.
Every one of the monsters, I realized, was the result of self-absorption. I didn’t want to hurt, didn’t want to be challenged, didn’t want to give up my sense of security. There are so many people who don’t have the luxury of avoiding hurt, challenge, and insecurity, and so my Lent was an exercise in growing my ability to center their concerns. I wrote a piece about what I learned and how I responded to these gleanings for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Patheos blog.
But if my Lenten discipline was just an experiment, a temporary shift in focus, then I was not truly willing to be formed, I was not actually interested in growing toward others and God. And if I go back to the way I operated before Ash Wednesday, then I can no longer claim to be a faithful minister or a follower of the gospel. I cannot forget what I have read and heard about the plights of others over these 40 days. I cannot pretend that I didn’t discover parts of myself that need redemption. I cannot ignore that if I believe God is self-giving love, then I must do my human best to embody that same love, comfort be damned.
So hold me accountable, will you? Call me out when needed. Tell me how I can help. I promise I will keep listening, expanding my heart, and trying to do better.