Love is all you need

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

It’s Ash Wednesday, too, the beginning of Lent. Interestingly enough, the three pillars of Lent all relate to love relationships.

Prayer: strengthens your relationship with God and helps you to focus on how you can serve God through serving others.

Fasting: involves your relationship with yourself, as it helps you turn from selfish habits and things that disturb your inner peace.

Almsgiving: (not, as autocorrect wanted it to be, “skydiving”) lets you reach out and build relationships with others in need, whether they need something tangible, like food or shelter, or just need our compassion, concern, or forgiveness.

I love Lent. I don’t always do very well at those three important parts, but even making the effort makes a difference. It’s like a spring cleaning for your heart, a chance to look at whether you have been relating to God, to yourself, and to other people in the most loving way possible.

Some say that these three practices are like the three legs of a stool. I’m cool with making it a chair and adding skydiving back in.

Don’t give up

It’s Ash Wednesday, the traditional day of giving things up. “I’m giving up chocolate,” you hear people say. “I’m giving up watching TV. I’m giving up fast food.”

Not me. Not this year.

I’m not giving things up for Lent this year.

dream weaver by Greg Westfall on flickr

I’m not giving up my dreams. I know I can be more, do more, have more. I’m going to spend time in reflection during this Lenten season, clarifying just what it is that I can best do for myself and for this world.

I’m not giving up my forward momentum. I’m going to keep working hard to make things happen and asking for help when I can’t do it alone.  I’ll keep breaking things down into the smallest possible steps — and then taking those steps!

I’m not giving up on myself or anyone else. I’ll keep giving the benefit of the doubt, believing in others’ best selves as well as my own.

I’m not giving up on my relationships. I’m going to spend Lent with the people I love, finding ways to share in their lives instead of making them find a place in mine.

I’m not giving up my faith. I want to turn away from the things that have drawn me apart from making God a part of my daily life. Lent’s emphasis on prayer, fasting and giving to the poor will help me look at the ways I’ve strayed from the path of Love that I have willingly chosen.

I’m not giving up.

dream weaver” by Greg Westfall / CC BY

Ashes to ashes

It’s Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. We receive ashes on our foreheads in the sign of the cross, representing our repentance, our willingness to take stock of our spiritual life and begin again.

It’s time again for the three main practices of Lent:

Prayer –  We take time to reflect on what we can do for others, how we can bring more light to the world, and where we have fallen short. It’s a great way to reconnect with God and recommit ourselves to the path we want to follow.

Fasting – We give up things that keep us from living the life we want to be living. I know, for instance, that I am a slave to my phone, whether I spend my time reading late at night or playing mindless games or scrolling through endless feeds. Giving up those (wasted) hours will free me to do good in the world, in my own home and in the community.

Almsgiving – Lent helps us focus on what we can do for others. Can I give up my Starbucks runs or lunches out and give the money I save to people who really need it? The money I spend on my luxuries could go towards someone else’s necessities. It’s the right thing to do.

There is such a feeling of excitement to Lent! I appreciate having the chance to make some adjustments in my life. I have sooo far to go to be the person I want to be, but I’m going to take this opportunity to make a start.