40 Days of Lent – Today

I’ve one week to go in my Lenten journey.  Choosing to do my own thing, I’ve not taken Sunday off (as is the custom of some).  That means I’m on day 40 and have 7 more days to go.

This journey has been a difficult one – a struggle in which victory seems beyond reach.

I am easily overcome…overwhelmed…by the expectations of others.  I want to please Jesus and live confidently into who I am, what I am, and who I am becoming – but I find myself drawn again and again into the old habit of pleasing people.

I want to celebrate Christ in me and embrace who God (Father, Son, Spirit) is growing me to be. I want to move beyond all that clutters and distracts and free myself to live fully a life that is pleasing to God. But, I’ll be honest – some days I am so wrapped up in the expectations of others that I don’t even give a thought to what God expects of me.

A minimalistic lifestyle – that sounds so good to me. But, instead of less I find more being piled upon me.

The expectations of others clutter my life, my thoughts, my hopes and dreams.  They create static that blurs the reception of those things Gods desires, expects, hopes, dreams of me and for me.

As I look around me, I see the desires and expectations of others oh so evident – in my life, in my thoughts, in my emotions, in my struggles, in my time invested, in my house, in this room….

Two things are evident to me as I share my thoughts.

My attention to the static from others interferes with my ability to see plainly the way of Jesus and to walk confidently.

Note that I said “My attention to” not “the static from others” – the problem is that I’m allowing the expectations of others to affect me…bury me…conquer me…run-over me…overcome me…prevent me from…overwhelm me.

The problem is MY ATTENTION to the expectations of others.

I need to become indifferent…unflappable…unconcerned…unmoved…unbothered by the desires and expectations that others place on me.  .

But how do I accomplish that?  And, what do I do with the negative feedback that I will receive from those who expect me to be otherwise? (Vicious cycle, isn’t it.)

My focus must be on the desires and expectations that God has for me as a follower of the Way of Jesus.

And, the only way that I know to do that is two-fold:

  1. Get rid of everything that others expect me to have, to hold, to take care of, to be, to do, to be a part of (a good place to begin would be with a big box – maybe several of them – and just place everything that I don’t care for or didn’t invite/want in my life in it, or that no longer fits who I am or who I am becoming).
  2. Immerse myself in God’s Word and in prayer, seeking above all to know and to follow the Way of Jesus and lean hard into living a life that seeks God’s approval and not that of people – becoming who God has and is creating me to be.

I’ve 7 more days of Lent.

Do I expect to emerge Easter morning a new creation?  I’ll admit…I’d hoped I would.

No. This ugly caterpillar is going to require more than just 47 days for her transformation to take place.  Morphing into a beautiful butterfly might be possible if I could isolate myself  and live in a cocoon for the duration…40 days in the proverbial wilderness…and emerge changed…new…different.

But, one thing I do know…when I placed my faith in Jesus and began my journey in the Way of Jesus, I became that new creature – old things passed away and all things became new.

The problem is, I keep going back to that old way…it seems so…natural and familiar.

And, complicated and cluttered and frustrating and consuming and….

Stupid of me, isn’t it.

Today is Palm Sunday – the beginning of the walk that leads to the cross.

The cross…that’s where my focus needs to be these next 7 days.

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