We’re slightly past the halfway mark of the 40-day penitential and reflective time that is Lent. How many of us can say we’ve stuck to our Lenten observances or even had thought of any to begin with?
In past years, I had all sorts of whacky observances such as no drinking of bubble tea or to tuck into bed before a certain time every night. It never occurred to me to follow the three pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving.
This year, as I reflected on what I wanted Lent to mean for me, I realised how I was completely out of focus in the previous years.
Lent is a time to take stock of where we stand with Christ and apply His teachings, in our relationship with others, and with ourselves.
As I try to listen more closely to God’s voice and His promptings to me to do something, my attention was shifted to forgiveness and carrying my crosses.
I made it a goal to open myself up to the hurts that I buried in my heart by bringing them up in prayer and lifting them up to God’s warm and inviting hands.
These hurts centred primarily on relationships with different groups of people in my life. I’ve always struggled to accept certain characteristics in people and make it a personal mission to change them to suit my liking.
Every time an attempt is made to change a person, I realised it would result in an argument or misunderstanding. I would feel bitter and annoyed, and wonder why my “good intentions” failed, and were not appreciated, let alone bear fruition.
It is difficult for me to acknowledge that I can’t control things and have to accept others as they are.
When I brought this up in prayer and pondered why I was constantly feeling this way, a thought surfaced.
My deepest hurt did not come from what others did or said to me, but it came from within. I let pride and selfishness get in the way of loving and accepting others as they are, especially those closest to me.
However, that is not what God calls us to do: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
In His own subtle way, God shows His love by bringing people into our lives, not to change but to accept them wholeheartedly and love without judgement or gripe.
He led by example in loving sinners and the marginalised, and calls us to do the same. For the longest time, I struggled with this and always thought what I was doing was right when in reality, I was blinded by pride.
Even till today, I face these struggles and probably will in the future – some crosses are meant to be taken on a journey. But when I do feel myself letting personal thoughts get in the way of God’s plan and love for me, I remind myself of His sacrifice for me and how He wants me to cling onto Him for strength to love others like He did.
Thank you Jesus.