I’m slightly impulsive sometimes. Although I have been thinking about a new look around here @ logic and imagination and for months I have fiddled with it in my mind it was not until today had the balls to push the button and SWITCH! I just did it and then I couldn’t switch it back even if I wanted to, so I hope you’ll forgive me while I figure out the ins and outs of this new look and format. I can’t go back. The old look is gone f o r e v e r.
I don’t have time to say more but look forward to change. Already I love the white, more optimistic background. Pictures pop. But I will have to change the picture in the header to something of my own (of course!).
Gotta run. But in the meantime you have to read this.
During Lent, we will meditate together on the Seven Deadly Sins and use this list as an aid in confession as we prepare ourselves for Holy Week, Good Friday and the Easter announcement of resurrection.
Sloth is not restfulness. Sloth is escapism of the deadly sort. Sloth saps our time and emotions through a favorite sports team, a new set of shoes, or obsession over our appearance—while leaving scant energy for our marriage or kids or duties. Nothing is so clearly modern, so clearly western as is sloth. Despite our fast-moving, success-worshiping, ulcer-ridden society, we invest our energies and talents most often in what is trivial. Despite our frantic pace, our eyes are seldom focused on what is actually “good.”
At its core, sloth moves us away from everything that ultimately matters and directs us toward simple distractions, for sloth is not laziness. Sloth is indifference—indifference toward my soul, my neighbors, my world, or my God. Drug users, Netflix addicts, and excessive video gamers may be poisoned by sloth, but so are most workaholics. In fact, sloth is best expressed not by a sluggish attitude but in zeal over petty matters. Sloth, in fact, is a sorrow about goodness. It finds those things that we were made to enjoy and pursue to be useless and boring.
To those of us who struggle with sloth Jesus said, “Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for all things put right.”
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged,Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected,Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase & I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen & I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised & I unnoticed,Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
(I will admit that I had to look up calumniated which is to “charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone.”)
Whew, that is incredible to read and let it sink into your heart, mind and soul. This prayer is counter cultural. A couple of those made my pulse race as I faced my fear in a physical way.
Desiring to be consulted has been a lifelong struggle for me.
Wanting to increase in the opinion of the world.
That others may be praised & I unnoticed is only something I can hope for, pray for.
I do believe repetition and practice in prayer is effective and powerful. I am going to pray this every day in Lent.
On Feb 17th, 2011 I decided I was going to stop. Stop contributing to the negativity in our culture. Stop verbalizing my negative thoughts about people. And criticising and not affirming or building up others. And perhaps become a more positive person.
So far, I haven’t made it more than a few days.
To be honest I haven’t kept track of how long I have gone but I know I have certainly not gone 21 consecutive days. But, the rubber band is still on my wrist. Remember the rubber band was the reminder. Move it to the other wrist when you fail. I said:
“I’m trying to lead by example and not complain about anything or criticize anyone, or gossip, for 21 days, which is how long it takes to form a habit apparently.”
And though I haven’t made it, I can say this.
I am fantastically aware of my mouth.
It’s not that I am an excessively negative person. But I am verbal. And I have been known to intimidate others — insert sinister laughter — and I am well aware of the “power” my words have. I am not consciously (I hope) hurting others at this point in my life. (I started working on giving up sarcasm approx. ten years ago and for the most part I’m doing well on that. But it’s tough.)
But I know how easy, almost habitual, it is to say something critical about another person. I include jibes or sarcasm here because, though (sometimes) funny, they are totally unnecessary and without a doubt do not build others up.
So, no more complaining, criticising and gossiping. I want to try. It’s not the number of days that matters. It’s the effort.
Another thing I’ve learned from this effort is that I DO use “complaining, subtle criticism and jibes” in a passive aggressive way.
When I am annoyed or upset about one thing, I jab at the person about something else. With the adult child or the tweens in my house I see directly how this simply wears down their self-esteem and it reinforces negative when it could be a learning opportunity. So, I am trying to be up front about behaviors that annoy me and let the cracks go. No matter how funny they may be I will bite my tongue!
And as this is the first day of LENT you might consider giving up being a “critical, complaining, or gossiping” person.
I have lofty goals for myself.
(Yes, that was sarcasm. But at my own expense!)
I am going to see if I can go three days without moving the wristband. Three days without saying something unnecessarily critical. Three days without talking about another person when they aren’t there. Three days without cracking a joke at someone’s expense. Some call it being snarky. Or kvetching. And three days feels long. It’s especially hard if you get a lot of your identity from being funny.
But it’s something to think about. It comes down to this: Do you build others up or tear them down?
I don’t want to be known to be a complainer. Or have a reputation for mean sarcasm. Or be remembered for being negative. And this is more than about giving something up. In that way it’s just a discipline. But if our heart is to be changed then we have to truely set that weakness or propensity or sin at the foot of the Cross. Let it go because if you’re totally honest with yourself, like me you want to build others up.
Three days. I know that’s about all I can do — in — a — row. If that!?! And then perhaps another three. Some day 21. Or the lenton 40. Or, forever.
What about you?
Some verses, if you read the Bible
Ephesians 4.29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them
Ecclesiastes 10:12 Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.
Matthew 12:34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
Romans 15:2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Ephesians 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Colossians 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Lent is strange for those that don’t follow the tradition. Or if followed at all it may mean giving up a vice for 40 days, an addiction to technology or caffeine or sugar, but not really knowing why.
That was true for me for many years. If you grew up in an evangelical church like I did, you may not know that much about Lent either.
It is the period of fasting leading up to Easter to remember Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. Like his fast, it is to be a time of sacrifice and listening. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends right before the evening service of Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday, depending on your tradition. This year Lent begins on March 9 in the Western Church.
For the longest time I was attracted to the idea of giving up a vice that had persistently bothered me, but I had no theological understanding of the tradition. I think evangelicals are remiss in not teaching about Lent, which can be a beautiful and profoundly meaningful tradition of growing closer to God.
I think we miss out because we give things up but don’t replace them with anything.
The intended purpose of Lent is a season of fasting, penitence, and self-denial, but also of spiritual growth, conversion, receiving from and embracing simplicity.
“Lent, which comes from the Teutonic (Germanic) word for springtime, can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out those things which hinder our corporate and personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our service to him. Thus it is fitting that the season of Lent begin with a symbol of repentance: placing ashes mixed with oil on one’s head or forehead.
However, we must remember that our Lenten disciplines are supposed to ultimately transform our entire person: body, soul, and spirit. Our Lenten disciplines are supposed to help us become more like Christ. Eastern Christians call this process theosis, which St. Athanasius aptly describes as “becoming by grace what God is by nature.”1
The aim in observing Lenten disciplines is to be changed as a person — body, soul and spirit!
Therefore there is more to it than giving something up, which I’ll admit for the longest time I thought was fairly impressive in and of itself. I don’t do well without caffeine which is something I habitually gave up. Or sweets. Yikes that one is hard.
As one endeavors to grow to be more like Christ and know him better, with the grace of God the tradition says you would be focusing on Fasting, Praying, Almsgiving (Charity or service) and Scripture.
The Catholic Church requires its members age 18 to 59 “to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, unless a physical condition prevents otherwise. This means only one full meal is permitted. The Fridays of Lent are days of required abstinence, meaning meat, and soups or gravies made of meat, are not permitted.” This traditional way of fasting I have have never observed. Giving up meat once a week or only drinking water for the 40 days is a way to remind ourselves of our abundance and to draw our attention to Christ’s sacrifice for us all. And to be more conscious of how much we have.
Lent is a good time to develop a discipline of daily prayer if you don’t have it already. Whatever it might be, the idea is to add the discipline of listening and seeking through prayer, whatever that looks like for you.
While giving something up you are also to put something positive in its place. They say the best way to remove a vice is to cultivate virtue. What might you do for someone else over Lent?
As he faced temptation in the desert, Jesus relied on Scripture to counter the trickery of the devil. Growing up I was encouraged to memorize scripture, but today this rarely occurs in the Church. Memorize a section of scripture like the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. Or if you are thinking of reading a whole book of the Bible promise yourself to read two chapters a day or finish a medium-sized book of the Bible by Easter.
Also, here is a wonderful compilation of books to read, rituals and fasts to consider, and meditations to read from Rachel Held Evans.
When it comes down to it, so often we don’t take the time to ask why we do a certain thing. Why do I need to observe Lent?
I found Evan’s ten questions helpful to ask myself as I prepare for Lent. But I winnowed and edited them down to three simple questions.
Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of my loving God or loving others?
Ask God to get a hold of that habit over the next 40 days and help you have the discipline to give it to him, forever.
Is there anyone in my life with whom I need to pursue forgiveness or reconciliation? This is unlikely to happen in 40 days, but preparing your hearts for it — yes, that can happen if you ask! Here is a poem that I wrote during a time of profound grieving knowing I had done and said what I thought was “unforgiveable.” It is called Longing for Mercy.
Ask God to begin to work in your heart (and in the other person) to ready you both for reconciliation in God’s perfect timing.
What am I willing to give up to carve out extra time for daily contemplation and listening to God? So often we allow life to press in and set our priorities and not decide for ourselves. What is important? Perhaps you need to get up an hour earlier during Lent to be with God? I started doing this in September and I can tell you that my life will never be the same. I find myself craving that time and (most mornings) it is not difficult to get up. You may need to go to bed earlier to do it. I do! Again a sacrifice, but well worth it in my experience.
Ask God to show you what you need to stop doing to have more time with him.
Ultimately we simply strive to live with the attitudes of humility, repentance and thankfulness. I pray that you will be richly met as you seek to know Jesus better.