Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published Feb. 28, 2001. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.
Today, many of us begin a sacred season called Lent. Christians mark the 40-day period in many ways, and, having grown up in a less liturgical church, I’m glad more denominations are now open to observing Lent.
Some churches are offering special classes, musicals and opportunities for community service. Others are leading believers through a time of self-denial through fasting and extra prayer services.
Regardless of the method, the opportunity to do some serious spiritual reflection comes at a wonderful time of the year.
Chill factors remind us winter has not yet passed. Fifty-degree days and sprigs of dark green grass remind us spring is on the horizon.
Trapped somewhere in the diminishing darkness of short days and snowy evenings and the welcome sound of spring peepers in a nearby creek, I’m taking a spiritual inventory.
What mindsets do I want to keep? What spiritual challenges lie ahead? In many ways, it’s like the beginning of a new year. What about all those new goals I set Jan. 1? Believe it or not, some of them are still in the running. Perhaps, because I took a new approach this year.
I took the advice of a TV commercial that said, “Don’t just change the way you look; change the way you see yourself.”
I didn’t take that to mean I should become a petulant diva, focused on my own whims and fancies, but I am a little gentler with myself these days. I did enough brow-beating and self-scrutiny growing up to last me for a lifetime.
Every morning, I try to visualize the kind of person I want to be throughout the day. I imagine how I want to react when I’ve been interrupted by phone calls for the umpteenth time. I think through how I want to interact with co-workers. Looking ahead and seeing myself doing the right thing, the courteous thing, the Christlike thing, helps me begin to move in that direction.
A physician friend shared a prayer with me that has become part of my morning routine. I ask the Lord to help me do no harm, relieve suffering wherever I find it and help as many people as possible get what they want or need this day.
It’s a big order, and I don’t always succeed, but I do better when I start out with a plan, a purpose and a prayer to be the kind of person I want others to be. That Golden Rule stuff Jesus talked about really works. My problem has always been that I tend to forget about it until AFTER I’ve opened my big mouth, done the wrong thing or given in to a hateful attitude.
As we begin the journey of Lent together, I encourage all believers to pray daily for one another. We’re all struggling to find God’s will, do the right thing and live the right way. We need divine intervention, and prayer is the best way I know of getting it.
I pray your journey of faith will be rich and meaningful this season. May you have more successes than failures, and may you awaken Easter morning with a renewed, resurrected spirit.