My focus for Lent this year is prayer. More specifically, prayer that will deepen my relationship with God. My spirituality has been deeply influenced by the idea that God wants a personal relationship with each of us. This belief is a core tenet of Ignatian Spirituality (developed by St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits). This idea is beautifully explored in the book “A Friendship Like No Other – Experiencing God’s Amazing Embrace” by Bill Barry.
Although I considered re-reading this book as my Lenten practice, I decided something more structured would better fit me now. I’m a chronic list-maker, and having something concrete to do each day (or each week) will help me be more successful at following through for 40 days.
I’ve decided to use two specific resources: a weekly podcast and a daily devotional for reading and reflection.
I listened to this podcast last year and enjoyed it. It’s hosted by two Jesuits in formation, and it’s thoughtful, practical, and entertaining. There’s a short (15-20 minutes) episode for each week of Lent. I looked forward to listening to this on a morning walk (and often listened to an episode more than once). I don’t know if new episodes will be released this year, but I hope so! If not, I’ll listen to the episodes from last year again.
“Good Enough” Devotional, from Kate Bowler
Kate is a bestselling author, podcast host, and professor at Duke University. At age 35, she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She wrote two best-selling books about her struggles to reconcile her faith, her diagnosis, and our cultural belief that anything is possible. Kate wisely reminds us that being human is a chronic condition and helps us see that even in the midst of the pain and grief, there are moments so absurd that all you can do is laugh.
She has just released a book of spiritual devotions (named “Good Enough: 40ish Devotionals for a Life of Imperfection”) and is offering a free reflection guide for Lent, which can be used either with the book or by itself. These reflections are intended to help free us from believing that we should endlessly improve ourselves.
This book is a companion for when you want to stop feeling guilty that you’re not living your best life now. Written gently and with humor, Good Enough grants permission to all those who need to hear that there are some things you can fix – and some things you can’t. And it’s okay that life isn’t always better.”– from the book jacket for “Good Enough”
Perfectionism and self-judgment are struggles for me. Ironically they are perhaps the most significant things that interfere with being the person I most want to be. So, I’m hoping my Lenten practice with this book will help me become more comfortable with who I am and help me feel (really feel, not just in my head but in my heart) that God loves me just the way I am. Because if I want a relationship with God, feeling that God is constantly judging me is not going to help.
I can’t predict where my Lenten journey will lead, but I believe using these resources will give God something to work with and open me to His guidance. I’m excited and hopeful about the possibilities.
A Closing Prayer
We enter this Lenten season feeling weary, heartbroken, and numb after surviving yet another year of this pandemic. Use our desire to know You better to bring peace and comfort to our hearts and let us know that You are always with us.
Please give me the grace to persist with my chosen practices during the entire duration of Lent. Especially when I don’t feel like doing them or believe they aren’t accomplishing anything.