I lost my patience with a co-worker this afternoon and obliterated my Lenten state of mind after only one day! I thought tonight would be an appropriate time to regroup and reflect on the spirit of Lent.
I remember last year’s Lent as one of the most significant. In my previous post, I touched on the major changes my relationship with God has undergone over the last couple of years. Last Lent I dug deep. My relationship with God had gotten serious – it was exciting and I wanted to continue to grow in His spirit. Similar to someone training for a 5k or marathon, I “exercised” my faith everyday. I set goals. When I fell out of the routine, I started over the next day.
The three goals from last Lent:
- Read the Bible every day (just a paragraph was enough)
- Spend quiet time with God (it was time I set aside just to listen, about 15 minutes)
- Physical exercise
Physical exercise was fitting at the time because I still hadn’t found a job and had gotten into the habit of staying in my sweatpants all day. I thought exercising might be a way to show gratitude to God for other gifts I had – like my health.
The second part of my Lent experience was discernment. Because I was jobless, I asked God what I was supposed to do with my life.
I posed the question, “What is my identity in Christ?” I asked this question often, hoping God would answer me with a job description that I could apply for and start paying my own bills.
Even though I was sad, depressed, lonely, and cracking from the anxiety of uncertain circumstances of my life, I gained peace of mind by getting to know God through our private conversations and learning I could trust Him with my life. Even if the circumstances around me didn’t change, I grew to learn to fully trust in God, and that He would guide me where I needed to go as long as I took time to listen.
Then there were days I was talking and felt like He wasn’t listening. I just kept talking anyways.
I had been out of a job for 10 months when I got a job offer at the end of Lent last March. I realize this may read poetic, like I’m just taking a paintbrush and creating a story with blurred lines and false connections. But I felt connected to God, and I truly felt he was at work in my life. On Easter Sunday, I rejoiced in Jesus and I rejoiced in the prospect of starting my new job.
As for the question I had asked God to answer at the beginning of Lent – what is my identity – I had assumed the answer would come in the form of what kind of job I should have. I don’t remember when or how I got this answer, but I heard “Your identity is in ME.” It made so much sense. Regardless of a job, my identity is in Christ.
This year my goals are the same as number 1 and 2 – these I usually try to keep around all year. I’m also discerning something, we’ll see what I find out!
A third piece involves reading the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska and praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I had never heard of St. Faustina, her Diary, or Jesus’ powerful messages of mercy until my church book club selected “Loved, Lost, Found: 17 Divine Mercy Conversions” for reading last month.
Maria Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun who kept a diary of conversations she had with Jesus during the 1930’s. In these conversations, Jesus urges us to simply ask for his Mercy and it will be given.
Jesus to St. Faustina:
“Souls that make an appeal to My mercy delight Me. To such Souls I grant even more graces than they ask.” –Diary of St. Faustina, page 1146
St. Faustina is the Apostle of Divine Mercy, and the second Sunday of Easter is known as the Feast of Divine Mercy, designated by Pope John Paul II on April 30, 2000. He canonized Faustina Kowalska the same day.