The other day, someone asked me what I was doing for Lent. I think she expected to hear, “I gave up chocolate.” Instead, I told her I am spending Lent focusing on the lessons I learned during my friend Jim’s illness.
Throughout his illness, the words “fear is useless; what is needed is trust” (Luke 8:50) helped me cope. I said them every day—and most days, many times. This Lent, I am trying to be aware of when I am fearful and to let it go so I can live in trust and openness to what God is doing.
While Jim was sick, we spent some time at the New Jersey Shore; he loved looking out at the ocean. “Think big thoughts,” he would say as he contemplated the beauty of nature and the abundance of God’s blessings. I am trying to think big thoughts, to appreciate all aspects of my life and to thank God for my many blessings.
One of my favorite moments from the Shore happened one morning as I was walking along the water’s edge. The ocean was absolutely calm, no waves anywhere. As I walked, I noticed the broken shells on the sand, and I knew God was telling me: “This ocean is a sign of my peace. It is how you are to live—in calm and peace, open, expansive. This is what freedom looks like. At the shoreline, at your edges, leave anything sharp or broken and flow back to the calm openness, the expansiveness.” I am trying to live in the vast freedom God offers me, letting go of anything that gets in the way of being calm and at peace.
This Lent, I am keeping the chocolate—and giving up those things that keep me from trust, gratitude and peace.