This week marked the beginning of Lent – a period of soul preparation before Easter. While many are giving up chocolate or Facebook or something they love during these weeks, I’m refraining from fasting something specific in an effort to use this time to more intentionally examine my life and reorient my schedule/priorities.
I’ll explain more about my personal goals for Lent later, but for now I want to share what has emerged as the overarching theme of this season of introspection:
It’s me, isn’t it?
Things that I’ve been reminded of…
- Thinking that I am entitled not to respond to someone’s entitlement complex indicates that I have a problem with entitlement.
- Comparing how humble I am with how prideful others are is a form of pride.
- Withholding love from those who refuse to be loved reveals my inability to love.
- Being reluctant to point out that others are reluctant is a display of my own reluctance.
- [This list could go on for awhile... ]
Even armed with the best excuses and rationalizations, I’m still always the root of the problem. When I critique the lives of others, I shouldn’t be looking for a list of ways they can change because my criticism isn’t nearly as indicative of their character as it is of mine. My problem is my entitlement complex, my pride, my inability to love, my reluctance, my ______
The only one responsible for my actions and my character is me. Yes, circumstances and relationships and events may influence my life for better or worse. But, I am the one who decides how I respond.
I can choose to justify finding faults in others, or I can choose to examine my own heart. I can wallow in my circumstances, or I can allow the joy of the Lord to be my strength. I can complain, or I can be grateful for the experience. I can remain anxious, or I can offer every worry, concern, and dream up in prayer.
Yes, things are sometimes more complex than making a simple choice, but even then - I’m the only one who can live my life. And more importantly, I’m the only one who can decide to give over my attempts to control my life in exchange for the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.
It’s definitely not about me, but it is certainly up to me.
Chi Alpha used the tagline “It’s not about me” for its first World Mission Summit and then “It’s up to me” for its second. It was easy to mock the seemingly contradicting statements, but now I think I understand.
It’s really not about me. I mean it can be if I choose to make it about me, but what is the benefit in that? I’m boring, incapable, and immortal. Why wouldn’t I want my life to be about an exciting, perfect, infinite God?
I’ll quickly caveat that the phrase “it’s up to me” is deceiving. It’s only up to me to choose to seek and obey God, and it really has more to do with who He is than who I am. Even my choice to seek Him is empowered by Him in some way. So while I don’t quite understand how the whole free will thing works, I do know that it is up to me to determine how I live my life and what sort of person I become.
Lent is reminding me that no matter what I see in the world or people around me…. at the end of the day, my problem is always me.
It’s me who avoids awakening…
Jesus asks me to tarry with Him, and I fall asleep. It’s not my exhausting day to blame. It’s not the fact that the garden is a comfy place to rest. It’s not because the other people following him fell asleep too. It’s not even a strategic plan designed to conserve my energy for greater things ahead. It’s because I am too weak to make the choice to tarry.
Are you asleep too? If so, perhaps you should stop waiting for the world to awaken, and realize it’s you whose to fault for your slumber…
As Jesus says: “Get up, let’s get going” (Matt. 26:46).