Lent Day 2: Sorting, Stretching & Overpriced Hairspray

Yesterday I almost bought $27 hairspray. I liked the way it smelled as the stylist finished my hair, so I grabbed it off the shelf next to the counter as I checked out.

Then the receptionist gave me a bill that was A LOT more than what I usually pay, and I quickly put the hairspray back. I was so stunned, there wasn’t even time for embarrassment to kick in–you know, the kind that happens when you feel awkward about not being willing to pay what someone is asking? Nope, there was none of that. Just a firm conviction that no hairstyle I’ll ever come up with will warrant shellacking it in gold.

(This has nothing to do with Lent. It’s just the funniest thing that’s happened to me this week, so I thought I’d share.)

Here’s my thought re: Lent – Sorting and Stretching.

Lent is a season to sort out questions of who we are and who we want to be. Ostensibly, we’re preparing for Easter–resurrection, new life, proof of miracles we can touch and see and experience firsthand. imagesWe’ll need to be different to receive these things. We just will. We’re not the most excellent miracle receivers in the midst of our daily lives. We tend to fumble the ball.

Easter inspires (indeed, requires) us to stretch, grow, reach for things that are beyond us. The question is, how?

Usually, my default way to deal with this question is to:

1. Look at the people around me,

2. Make a list of all the ways you’re better than I am, and

3. Set to work closing the gap.

Self Improvement PlanI mean, who better to chronicle my weaknesses than me? I can fill A LOT OF TIME trying to be less like me and more like you. It’s painful, so that means I’m stretching, right? It must be good for me if it hurts!  Why involve God in the process at all? I ask. Surely He has better things to do… 

Only my faith tells me there’s nothing He’d rather be doing than helping me with this question, and that He has a much different vision for my optimal growth trajectory than my little list suggests.

Today as you observe Lent, drop your list of things you should be and do to be a better person, and put your trust in God instead. He can do stuff. It’s easier for Him to work when we’re not scrambling around like wounded chickens.

Here’s what I’ve found:

-If God wants me to be nicer, He prompts me to be nicer. I end up doing nice things, even despite myself.

-If He wants me not to swear, something feels weird inside me whenever I’m about to use a colorful expression, and I find a different word.

-If He wants me to do something, He knows how to get my attention. He’s a pretty compelling God, after all. It’s not like He’s easy to ignore.

Instead of initiating your own growth program, ask God for His instead. It probably won’t come with plans and goals and a checklist. You’ll have no idea what’s going on. But when Easter comes, you’ll look back on this season and see in a new way what God has been up to. And that’s inspiring stuff.