Monday, March 3, 2014

The Goal of Faith aka Do Not Be Discouraged aka Lent 2014

It is almost here! Lent 2014. I can't define how I feel about it. I really want to enter into Lent this year, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity it presents. but I wouldn't say I'm pumped about is never really *pumped* about 40+ days of repentance and sacrifice are they?

For some reason, rocks always say "Lent" to me. Perhaps because the devil tempts Jesus to turn them into bread in the Scripture reading we always begin the Lenten season with. (Matthew 4:1-11. A good Lenten meditation could be: what are the "rocks" in our lives that we are tempted to trade in and just get rid of quickly rather than wait and embrace to see what they reveal? Oooo...that's a good one for me right now in my life!)

When I went to search for "rock" images, this picture above entitled "Colorful Rocks" popped up. Hmmm..are they really all that colorful?!? Apparently, whomever posted this pic is much more of an optimist than I. And that's what this blogpost is about!

The devil is a sneaky, sneaky terrible evil, evil thing. I really can't emphasize sneaky and terribly evil enough. I have been talking to my friends about depression which is something that many of us (myself included) have struggled with at some point in our lives. Depression is a thing that I am convinced is of the devil. He takes our lives and makes us think that they are worthless or pointless and he does this at the most inopportune moments of our lives- often when there is no reason for us to feel depressed or when things are actually really JUST FINE. (The author of Hyperbole and a Half writes a really hilariously accurate depiction of depression in her blog. Warning: there is some "language" but if you have ever experienced depression, these posts can be comic relief. Here is post 1 and her later post 2).

I have been reading this book with my women's prayer group and continue to find great lights in it, even though I have read many of Fr. Philippe's books and books about St. Therese before. Today, paired with the readings of the day, I found a great insight about Trust vs Discouragement.

The author asserts that the root of our discouragement is when we put trust in ourselves, rather than in God. This was, for whatever reason, I real revelation for me this morning even though I'm sure I've realized it before. Similarly, the first reading from Peter's letter also challenged me in regards to the genuineness of our faith:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Although you have not seen him you love him;
even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls." - 1 Peter 1:3-9

How often do we think of our trials as proof of the glory and honor of the revelation of Jesus?! And the "goal of our faith" as the salvation of our souls?

As Lent approaches, there is a temptation (once again- stupid devil!!) to use Lent as a time of "self improvement" instead of what the readings tell us today: to honor the revelation of Jesus Christ. We will only be discouraged, as Father Philippe notes, if we try to put trust in ourselves this Lent, rather than on Christ. 

The root of Adam and Eve's and now our Original Sin is that they focused on themselves instead of trusting God. And that sin has been haunting and plaguing us ever since. Fr. Philippe brings up another prominent hindrance for us in our effort to trust God: shame. As I mentioned already, the devil loooovvvessss to use this on us, like he did Adam and Eve (remember the whole clothing themselves and being embarrassed of their bodies suddenly??) 

Our tendency to become discouraged and ashamed keeps us from not only trusting God but from attaining the "goal of our faith" which is purity of heart and true love of God. Not only do we get discouraged but then we want to run and hide ourselves rather than just confidently approaching God and saying we are sorry! GAH! I really, really hate this guy and the havoc we allow him to cause:

So this Lent, I'm going to try to not be discouraged and focus less on myself and more on God (which is no revelation, but more just the purpose of Lent anyways); to honor HIS sacrifice and not think about ours. 

I'm doing the what has become somewhat common place thing now of giving up Facebook, but mainly because this is a major source of discouragement for me lately.

I am, however, keeping up a commitment I made with a friend to "100 days of Happy" where we post one pic for a 100 days of things that make us happy in order to deter these tendencies of discouragement with gratitude. I will be posting these on Instagram, which may seem like I'm substituting one social network for another, but I think both commitments will be good for me....ah! I mean...for the glory of God!!! See? It just sneaks up on us!

What I'd REALLY like to give up this Lent, however, is this terrible snow and winter, but do not be discouraged, right?? Spring is coming :)

Blessed Lent!


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