Today is Ash Wednesday. Normally I would go to a church service outside of my weekly rhythm–in a different Sanctuary on a different day and at a different time. At the beginning of the solemn season of Lent, this break in my routine has always naturally created a sacred space for me to contemplate my own human frailty before God. Unfortunately with both the weather and COVID interfering this year, I will only have the opportunity to connect with my church family online. I feared I might miss the richness of this meaningful day without all the usual rituals; but my body unexpectedly decided to create its own sacred space in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping.
As I laid awake seeing my failures and flaws flash before my eyes, I just wanted to look away as quickly as possible. Honestly, that is my typical pattern. I tend to completely crumble whenever I catch a glimpse of my true reflection. However, as I dared to stare into my own soul today, I sensed God challenging me to push past my first reaction. I felt Him inviting me not to crumble but to come—to come closer and look longer at what I was seeing with Him.
The truth is: crumbling will always leave us the same, but if we answer the call to come, God’s transforming grace awaits. Will there be some pain for those of us who are bold enough to see our brokenness and not look away? Yes. We can pretty much count on it. However, far more so, we can expect the power and peace that come from discovering more fully God’s great, merciful love for us.
I am slowly learning that what we refuse to face will never change, and so on this Ash Wednesday, I pray:
Come Holy Spirit.
Show me what I need to recognize about myself in this season.
Open my eyes to see how I am not loving You with my whole heart,
And reveal the places where I have turned loving my neighbor upside down and inside out.
I confess I will try to ignore or rush past what you bring to mind.
I confess I will try to make excuses for my failures,
And I confess I will search for quick and easy answers.
Help me Spirit.
Empower me to not release the tension as fast as I can.
Embolden me to embrace the awkward discomfort,
And encourage me to welcome what I am learning about myself not as an enemy but as a friend.
Guide me away from any self-loathing toward your grace-filled love.
Direct me me away from any hand-wringing toward true repentance,
And lead me away from any stinging shame toward your salvation.
Transform me Spirit.
Shape me with Your holy hope.
Mold me with Your healing touch,
And change me with Your gentle voice as you restore me more into Christ’s image.
May my life more fully reflect Your light when this Lenten journey is done.
May my heart beat more in rhythm with Your compassion for the world,
And may my purpose be more aligned with your mission.