Have you ever given up anything for Lent? For many Christians, what they give up may be either temporary or largely symbolic. For those of us in our transitional Land Between, what we most likely need to give up is of a permanent nature- fixation on past events, an unforgiving attitude, self-perception that isn’t Scriptural.
Current appearances to the contrary, I was quite small as a child. Often the target of bullying, I had the rather odious nickname “Hen” (as in ‘lay an egg’). Being likened to a female chicken certainly didn’t help my self-concept. Quite imperceptibly, that image became a dominant part of my subconscious thought even in adulthood. It took my downsizing in 2006 to begin my healing process as I yielded to God and quit holding on to that negative image.
Over time such negative thinking becomes addictive. In his book You Can’t Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought, Peter McWilliams writes that the mind becomes addicted to being ‘right’, the body craves the chemical rush produced by the Flight or Fight response, and your emotions simply love the intensity of the whole process. In a similar vein, Dr. Sidney Simon and Suzanne Simon say that “forgiveness is recognizing that we no longer need our grudges, resentments, our hatred and self-pity.” We don’t need to justify negative behavior when we have been justified by grace.
We truly can give up that which inhibits our relationship with Jesus and blurs our vision of future ministry when we heed the words of St. Paul in Philippians 4:8-“.. .whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent is praiseworthy-think about such things.”
Come to Jesus- and live!