Today marks the first day of Lent.
40 days in which people say they are giving something up. It typically starts out okay, but as the days march on, sometimes it gets harder and harder to maintain our self-discipline in whatever we choose to abstain from. Today a few people asked me what I was going to give up. Well, I didn't exactly have a response because I didn't really know.
When I was younger, I'd go straight for "oh yeah, this year I'm giving up pop and candy.." Again. Like the year before. Now I don't drink pop and I rarely have candy, so what do I turn to? Yes, I get on social media, but I also don't have much time to do that during the day, so I can't say it is something that takes over my life. It'd be nice to do without though, a majority of the websites are full of inappropriate posts or things I could care less about seeing.
I came across an article tonight talking Pope Francis, what he thinks we should give up this year. The article quoted him, and I wanted to share because it's so relevant to anyone that might be reading this, because the world is a dark and oftentimes careless place.
“Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades.” He continues that, “We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”
We tend to get so caught up in our day-to-day schedules that we disregard those around us who might be in pain. Sure, they might have a smile on their face, but if you truly tried to have a conversation with them, you might realize that he just lost a job or that she is struggling with a relationship problem. Our culture has gotten so good at covering things up, with makeup, with overly-positive Facebook posts, with pictures that can be edited to perfection. If we stripped away all of the covering up people try to do, what would we see? My guess is a whole lot of brokeness.
For one of my classes, we have had to take pictures of different objects spelling out a word. As I looked at the word Faith that I created and thought about it more, it reminded me of Pope Francis' quote. We get caught up in our own interests and there isn't any room for others on the narrow, zig-zagging path. We bounce back and fourth around in our lives until we realize how irrational we've been and how badly we need the grace that the Lord so graciously provides to us. So we get back on the straight and narrow, until we fall back into our old ways because it's so easy to go back to past habits and to take the "easy way out."
No matter what we do, who we are, or what we've done, the cross is set in stone. He's there right in the center of the word, between the I and the H, a T, which reminds me of the cross. Between those two letters, brings me to think I Thank Him. Who would I be without Him? Nothing.. A lost girl trying to find her place in this world. What hope would I have? Not much, because I wouldn't have an eternal life to look forward to. But there He is, today and everyday. Waiting with open arms for us all to embrace Him, to see that his love is unfailing and never-ending.
So the cross remains. His love remains, it never fails, and it never gives up. Many days its my strength, my hope, my comfort, and my joy. It's the one thing in life that remains constant, it's the reason I find such joy in the little things in life. I want to feel compassion, I want to be there for those who are in need. I want to do good, and I want to see good overcome all of the sad, broken stories in this world. Jesus died for me and for all of us on the cross. He knew we'd always be sinners, we were sinners when He died for us, yet He still gave His life for us.
So what do we have to lose by giving love to those who need it the most? We don't have to necessarily give something up, but maybe we can take a step back and give up the way we've been living and treating others. Maybe we can focus on doing little things for someone each day- a smile, a note, a hug, a nice text. We won't see any change around us if we aren't willing to feel the need to help others. Let your guard down, let your hearts be softened, and let us change the world one person at a time during these 40 days of Lent.