To Give Up Something for Lent or Not

This is the second in a series of 40 posts on Lent. To read all posts, hit subscribe button to your right.

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For many years my family has participated in the spiritual practice of giving up something for Lent. Ideally this practice has a bit of a pruning effect. It takes away something that is hurtful to your relationship with God.

But honestly, I have found over the years this practice in itself has been hurtful to my relationship with God. 

You see, I am an all or nothing type person. The OCD is strong with this one. So giving up something can become a bit of a personal challenge instead of a personal discipline. I have a feeling if I was a monk hundreds of years ago I’d be the guy who didn’t eat for 40 days, was lying in bed near death but still cheering, “I did it! The rest of you suckers caved. But I fasted for 40 days! Take that!”

Yeah, somehow I think this is missing the point. Giving up something for Lent is supposed to draw us closer to God, not up our already rampant neuroticism (oops, maybe that’s just me) .

Since I already struggle with trying to win God’s love by being a good girl, this practice of doing something that will improve my relationship with God can be dangerous.

I’m the kind of girl who needs to realize God already loves me no matter whether I complete my Lenten fast or not. And nothing I can do will either increase or decrease that love.

So what’s an overachieving good girl to do?

After reading many grace filled authors, spending time in God’s word and in prayer, for me it has come to this:

What is separating me from experiencing the fullness of Christ’s love and grace that already exists for me?

When I ask myself this question, the answer is more often something like fear or anger, not my chocolate habit.

But truth be told chocolate is easier to give up than anger. I am not even sure if you can “give up” something like anger. I think it is more of a letting go than a giving up.

So what it is this year that you need to let go of in order to experience the fullness of God’s love and grace for you?

I invite you to pray over this. Know that when the answer comes, the doing will come more from God than you. As if God is standing there ready to take our anger from us and all we have to do is release it.

For our relationship with God is not built on our goodness or efforts. It is built on God’s goodness and God’s efforts.

Good news, right?

Whatever you decide to do for Lent, may it draw you deeper into the embrace of Christ’s love and grace.

 

The Difference Between Pain and Suffering

So, i took the summer off from blogging (more on that later). But when I came back to check on things at Centering Down, I was surprised that in my absence this little post was read around thirty times each day by folks all over the world. So as I re-enter the blogosphere for another year (Happy Second Blogoversary to me), I thought I would re-share what has obviously resonated with many. I hope that you enjoy. And though I hope your day is good, even if it is painful remember you have the choice to still be present in that pain and accept it for what it is. This simple tactic has made a huge difference in my life and I hope it will bless you as well.

All the best,
Dena

Centering Down

Pain is probably one of our most universal experiences. We feel it when we are born. We feel it when we die. We feel it countless times throughout our lifetime in a spectrum of different ways.

Heartbreak. 

Injury.

Illness.

Loss.

But does pain necessarily equal suffering?

As I’ve written recently, I’ve been laid up a bit these past few weeks with a bad neck and a resulting flare up of my panic/anxiety issues. I think is is safe to say that some days there was both pain and suffering present as I was laid out on the sofa.

Not only was I hurting and unable to do what I wanted to do, but I was frequently thinking about how frustrated I was that I was hurting and unable to live my normal life. Not only would I think about it, but I would share my worries and complaints with whoever…

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A Centering Down Birthday Wish

It is a special day here at Centering Down.

It’s My Birthday!

Birthday Wish

For a long time I have had a secret goal of reaching 1,000 followers by this day. (I have broken 900, so we are close).

Now before you think my ego has gotten too big or I am focusing on the wrong thing, let me tell you why I care.

Though I love writing this blog, I also have a dream of writing and publishing books.

In fact, I’ve already self-published an Advent Devotional you can find on the side bar or the books tab on the home page. I also have a draft of a book on coping with anxiety disorders that I wrote with my therapist husband. We are trying to have that book traditionally published. Last summer we got really close to this dream.  A couple of publishers looked at the book and really like it. But in the end they turned us down.

You see publishers these days want authors who are an easy bet to sell books (publishing has become a tough market). They want you to have a platform already established that you can market your book to. Frankly, this kind of business talk makes my head hurt, but it is today’s reality.

So for the past year I have done what they all told me to do. “Try and grow your platform.” Build the blog. Be active on Twitter. Grow your Facebook family.

I’ve drawn my motivation from trying to share hope, healing, and encouragement with as many people as I can. I’ve tried to use my life and voice to be a blessing. For the most part this has kept me busy and sane.

I am so grateful to all of you who have found Centering Down this past year one way or another and taken the time to read my offerings.

Birthday Gift to Centering Down

And today of all days, as a gift to myself, I will allow myself one moment of embarrassing self promotion.

If you read this blog regularly but are not subscribed, will you click the Follow button on the upper right corner? If you just want to check things out here for a while and read the other encouraging content I pass along, maybe you could like the Centering Down Facebook page or follow DenaDHobbs on Twitter? And if you really want to make a girl happy, you could share this with your friends and encourage them to check Centering Down out as well.

I promise to do my best to consistently give you something to read that will make your day better. That will help you exhale that heavy weight and bring a smile to your soul. And hopefully sometimes even make you laugh.

Again, thanks to you if you have read this blog once or hundreds of times. It is a gift to write at all, but it makes my heart full when I connect with readers in a way that makes a difference in both our lives.

And as always, feel free to share feedback on what would be a gift to you!