I like to think of Lent as spring cleaning for my inner life. Lent is the Anglo-Saxon word for spring and I find it interesting that, for them, it was a sufficient metaphor for our spiritual renewal in this season. Spring is coming out of the darkness of winter into the light that exposes all the dark corners of our lives. And for me it is the prompt to clean house.
I am the mother of young children and am often mystified by the messes I find in my own home: small piles of playground sand emptied from shoes, crushed cheerios under couch cushions, and gigantic dust bunnies lurking under beds. I try to toss things out everyday so I don’t get buried under an avalanche of Happy Meal toys and broken crayons but eventually I accept that it is time to do a full purge of the whole house so that it is a good place for my family to live.
Lent is an invitation to deep-clean your soul and it begins with a single reminder: You are dust and to dust you will return. Life is a fleeting gift from God. And we are marked for death because of sin. And yet the promise is that the Lord of Life, Jesus the resurrected Messiah, will come and live in you so that you share in his eternal life. Are you ready?
We begin the season with repentance and fasting on Ash Wednesday because are accepting God’s offer to help us with the hard work of cleaning house. If you are in search of a good Lenten discipline or fast, prayerfully take a look at these areas of your inner life. Let the Lord lead you in ways that will turn you from sin and toward life in Jesus.
Parents like to one-up each other telling stories about the most disgusting messes their children have ever made. But no one ever chuckles and tells you about their debilitating phobias, addictive relationship to food or alcohol, or lust that is poisoning a marriage. If there is something that you know is unhealthy or unholy in your life, bring it to God and ask for deliverance from it in this season. You may also be called to meet with a priest for confession and absolution and get additional professional help. Lent ultimately ends in a celebration of our freedom from bondage to sin. Is this the year you will walk in freedom?
It’s one thing to discover that you own duplicate gardening tools or cabinet full of novelty plastic cups no one uses. But what about the ways you occupy your time? Have you taken an honest look at how you pass an average day? I get an iPhone screen time report every Sunday that I always find shocking. How could a woman as who claims to be as busy as I do spend that much time playing Two Dots? In order to support necessary spiritual habits you will have to get rid of some unnecessary time wasting. If you would like to pray and read the Bible you don’t need to carve out an hour a day. Start with a cut of your Instagram time and you will have a solid start on a Lenten habit of prayer and Bible study.
There is a perennial debate in many households that is never settled—how many throw pillows is too many? The answer ranges from 2 to 9. We are creatures who love comfort. We will almost always choose to make our lives easier and better if presented with a moderately priced solution. This isn’t a bad thing but it may be worthwhile to make your life less comfortable for Lent. If our call is to deny ourselves and follow Jesus then you should practice denying yourself in seemingly inconsequential ways so that you are always spiritually prepared to answer his call. If you think, “I could never give up coffee! I would be miserable without it.” Maybe you should see what it feels like to operate from a place of weakness and humility instead of always being your best. This is how we learn that Jesus is our strength.
As you enter into Lent, intentionally come clean before God. Let the words of David from Psalm 51 be your guide.
Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.