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Day 1: Lenten Love Challenge

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So today is the first day of Lent and it’s also Valentines Day. What an interesting combination. I don’t think I’ll have a chance to go to a service but I decided I wanted to do something to mark this time of the year this year. So I created my own challenge the Lenten Love Challenge. Lent seems to be about a time of deprivation. Taking away something you love. Sacrificing for Jesus one small thing to show honor and gratitude for all He sacrificed for you. I understand the concept, of course. But what I think is missing more than my willingness to sacrifice is my willingness to see myself as God sees me.

What to do?

1) Journal every morning for 40 days exploring ways that God loves you and that you can, in turn, love yourself
2) Give up criticising yourself and trying to earn love
3) Give up people pleasing and hiding who you really are
4) Write a Lenten Love List (like a Christmas List) asking God for what you truly want

If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. Matt 7:11

Wow, 7:11! That’s my birthday. What a beautiful message to me today. That You want to give me good gifts and all I need to do is ask. I have been neglectful in believing You wanted to give me good gifts, and also have fallen short in the asking. I guess I think they should just show up if it is Your will or maybe I also feel selfish for asking for things for myself. And children don’t ask for gifts for other people they ask for them for themselves. That’s totally normal.

So please forgive me for not asking. Forgive me for thinking that if it was to be it’s up to me. Here is my Lenten Love List which I am asking for. I guess it’s like a Christmas list, but for Lent. And I’m going to be totally honest and just ask. Because you said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened.”

I know that I cannot do these things of my own strength. Show me how we can be partners and help me focus my time and energy with you on these projects. Give me direction on what I need to cut out of my life to be fully present. I know gifts are freely given, so I believe that you want me to have these things.

You wish above all things that I prosper and be in good health even as my soul prospers.

These next 40 days, let it be a time of purity and soul prospering. Let it be a time of receiving your love for me entirely. Let me be overwhelmed with your love. For you didn’t die for me so I would have to eat scraps from the table like the dogs. You want me to sit with you at the table. A child of the most high God.

I will admit that I am afraid that I am insufficient. I am scared that I am not enough. I know that I’m not enough in and of myself. Which is why you came down to earth. I still am having a hard time believing it. Understanding the whole Easter story and that you were and are the only way. Is that true? I’m sorry for asking. You know I love you. However weak and fickle my love has been I truly am trying.

Casting all my cares upon Him because he cares for you. I know you’re not judging me and you know my thoughts already. I think what’s most important is that I share them honestly. For too long I’ve tried to pray in such a way that says the right thing, Sugar coating my feelings. Pretending. As if you don’t know my thoughts already. Who was I fooling? Myself only. I think in part prayer is an admitting to ourselves our feelings and exposing them for what they are. To you. Self-honesty. Right?

You do care for me. That’s so fun and reassuring. Sometimes I feel like I am the one caring for everyone else. And then I wonder who really cares about me? And am I selfish for wanting to be noticed? Wanting someone to care.

For this Lenten season I am going to focus ‘Not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” This is a good version of Acceptance.

Let me focus on the good qualities in others. Let me set healthy loving boundaries to protect my own energy. Let me see others as you see them. Let me, at every turn. know that you WANT me to find ease. You WANT to see your child thrive and succeed. You WANT to give me good gifts. How could I believe otherwise? Would I want to see my own child suffer? Of course not. If they made choices that caused suffering I suppose I could not prevent it. But if they asked for my help would I not bend over backwards to help? Of course I would.

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart and you will find rest for your souls. Matt 11:29.

Yes. I will do that. I will commit to asking. I will believe you want to give good gifts to me. I will remember that Your good thoughts to me number more than the grains of sand in the ocean. I will rest in the truth that I am perfectly and wonderfully made. I am not trying to earn your attention or your love. I already have it. You already see me. For that I am truly grateful.

I will let my light shine before humanity so they may see my life and know that without You none of it would be possible. Let any success, any love, any smile, that radiates from me, point back towards you. To whom all credit is due.

Thank you for loving me and giving me the power to carry out your will in the world. What a responsibility and privilege. I will do my best and with your help WE can. I love you and I’ll write again tomorrow.