What I Write About

I write about the infinite number of intersections between every day life and the good news of the God who has come to get us.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lent

Confession #1: I've never done anything for Lent before. This has come as a bit of a shock to some of the people I talked to last week: A religious professional! Never done Lent! Maybe I should have my license revoked.

Confession #2: I'm a pathological people-pleaser. I am convinced that this is why the Lord has me in ministry--in order to put me in a place where it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time. I must put this addiction to death, or it will kill me.

This was abundantly clear two weeks ago as I received several criticisms, most of them second-hand (the hardest ones to take). I spent the better part of my days having conversations in my head with the imaginary critical parties. I was anxious, frustrated, defensive, wondering who it was that was saying these things about me.

So last Wednesday as I sat in our Lenten service and the pastor called us to put away whatever it was that we were tempted to medicate ourselves with apart from Christ for the Lenten season, I realized what I needed to give up for Lent. I need to give up caring what other people think about me.

I need to do this because it is my addiction. I need to do this not in a spirit of spite or arrogance but of humility and grace. My life is to be lived humbly and up-rightly before the Lord and honoring the people around me. It is not up to me to defend myself or my work. That is the Lord's job. I am to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. There's something refreshingly clean and un-cluttered about the simplicity of that command. That's how I want to live.

Where I wrong others, I am free in Christ to ask forgiveness. Where the offense is imaginary, I am free in Christ to not have to prepare the five-point outline as to why I was right. I do not have to live my life having conversations in my head.

So far this has meant mostly being more aware of how I subtly angle for approval or defend myself from criticism or how often I'm thinking about what others think of me. This awareness has given me fresh opportunity to repent. I've given up on trying to please people. My job is to live for my Father's well-done, no one else's. That's worth killing myself for.

I'm obviously a rookie at this whole giving things up for Lent business. I'm not really sure if this counts--it seems like it's a requirement for Lent to give up chocolate or Britney Spears news feeds or Game Show Network or something like that. But for me to give up caring what other people think about me for Lent will be some much-needed therapy for my weary and idolatrous soul.

3 comments:

B-U-R-L-Y said...

Gonna pick it back up right after Lent? I'm guessing you're hoping not. I'm also guessing that you are aware that looking to Christ will be a little more helpful that trying hard not to let others' view of you impact you.

Let me see how you're doing so far. This next line is just a test for your soul, not a view of mine:

Boy, Alex, you sure suck at helping people.

Ashleigh said...

Ironically, I don't think you have a license...

This is my first Lent, as well. (I gave up cnnpolitics.com. ;o)

I am more and more surprised how many of us (evangelicals) have not observed Lent before... more and more, I feel this whole calendar thing is really good for us, esp to remind us of "yucky" stuff like confession.

Hope this continues to be a refreshing season for you.

Alex said...

thanks for the help, burly, i did okay with that!

ashleigh, i agree, i think that the church calendar helps to root us a little bit...