I don’t ever remember practicing Lent as a child. I had lots of Catholic friends and they all did; chocolate, coffee, cigarettes at lunch break, but my family never talked about giving something up or why others did and the church we attended didn’t either. I was raised in the Presbyterian Church and I remember Good Friday and Easter, but never the time leading up to it. So to be honest, I haven’t really ever participated in Lent, although as I get older and lean deeper into my relationship with Jesus and my desire to know Him more, I have listened and admired those who purposefully enter into Lent with a heart to draw closer to God, to understand and seek Him in a deeper, and more intimate way.
This year I felt that I too was ready in my understanding of Lent to do the same, but what? I was struggling with what It was that the Lord wanted me to let go of in order to make more room for Him.
I don’t know if it was Wednesday exactly but we, Keaton and I, were in the car having a “discussion” about something. I was getting annoyed because I felt like every time I opened my mouth to say something she had something to say that was totally the opposite of what I wanted her to hear. I know you are thinking, “Oh, the joys of parenting a teenager” and I was thinking something along those lines too, only not with the wording, “Oh, the joys” and as I yelled (because I really did yell) “Can you just listen to me for a minute!” and the anger boiled up and over the top. Her face responded with a look of fear and shock at my raised and angry voice. I said what I thought needed to be said and the rest of the ride home was quiet, too quiet and I felt sick to my stomach.
Later that night after I had apologized to Keaton for how I spoke and how angry I was, I still felt awful, and was crying out to the Lord for forgiveness for my lack of parenting skills, for my anger and impatience, which I seem to have too much of these days, and not enough forgiveness and unconditional love. I was asking for forgiveness for how I feel, like I have so much to say, but say it all-wrong and that’s when I heard It, or more like saw It in my mind; one simple but very big word: Listen.
So for Lent this year I am entering into listening. I am listening to what God wants me to know through His Word, through His people, through whatever means He chooses to use to teach and deepen my walk with Him. This year for Lent before I say anything, I will listen first. I want to hear from the Lord first. I want to hear what He wants for me and how he wants me to live and respond.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. James 1:19