Happy Ash Wednesday friends! The Lenten season is upon us!
We often associate Lent with giving up things like junk food, soda, and so on. But if we put our focus just into giving up trivial things, we tend to lose sight of the big picture. This time is especially crucial to strengthening our relationship with Jesus. It’s also important to realize that He is pursuing a relationship with you.
Every year my school’s campus ministry puts on a Lenten retreat that is a little bit different. It doesn’t involve escaping to a retreat center in the middle of nowhere and bonding with your peers. This occurs in the middle of the chaos that school and life brings. Each person that signs up is assigned to a spiritual advisor during Lent. Each week you meet and discuss the ups and downs you are facing during this time. Last year, I would go to church every Sunday at school, but besides that I would rarely pray or write in my prayer journal. I felt my relationship with the Lord was becoming more distant and praying was becoming more of a chore. So instead, I focused on my other relationships with people. I found myself putting way more effort into them, which left me lonely and empty. I didn’t realize that I was failing to recognize the most important relationship in my life.
When I heard the announcement about the retreat after Mass, I felt the sudden urge to sign up. At first I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. I can be outgoing and loud, but I can also be shy and quiet when it comes to talking about certain topics. I didn’t want to feel judged for the effort (or lack there of) that I was putting into my relationship with the Lord. But it was the exact opposite. My spiritual advisor was a huge influence as I began strengthening my relationship with God. Now I’m not saying that you need a spiritual advisor to be a successful Christian during Lent, but I can pass on the tips she gave me.
Use Meditation/Devotionals During your Prayer Time.
I found this to be really helpful. My school offers free devotional books each month and they allowed me to reflect on deeper things and new perspectives in my faith. I highly recommend The Word Among Us. It provides the daily meditations, along with the daily mass readings.
Social Media=Major Distraction.
I’m sure most of you know this already, but social media can be addicting. I’m 100% guilty of falling under the spell of funny memes, tasty cooking videos, and cutesy animals doing cutesy things. But we have to be strong and resist the temptation. I gave up Facebook and Twitter last year and I’m going to be honest, it was really hard. But I saw a huge difference in not only in my relationships with others, but Jesus as well. I was not buried in my phone when I woke up in the morning or when I was with my friends. I was able to focus on bettering these relationships in my life instead of focusing on the latest mannequin challenge video. I highly recommend doing this if you’re looking for something new to do during Lent!
Find a time and place to grow in your relationship.
This one is pretty important. Do you grow in your relationships with your closest friends by not communicating? NO!! This is the same with your relationship with Jesus. It should be a two-way street. I encourage you to make some time to spend with Jesus. Whether it be at your house, a coffee shop, outside, He will be there waiting for you. If you feel like God’s not answering, turn to Scripture. It’s filled with so many love letters! I’ve shared some examples of those down below.
Hopefully this brings you some motivation to start this season off on a positive note. It can also be very easy to slip back into old habits. I’ve definitely had days where I didn’t follow through with my plan to strengthen my relationship with Jesus. Luckily, He still loves and forgives us no matter what. I pray that you have the courage to pursue a friendship with the Lord these next forty days because he is waiting for you!
Love Letters from God
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any one listens to My voice and opens the door, I will go in to be with him and will feast with him, and he shall feast with Me.” (Revelation 3:20)
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)
“Taste and see the Lord is gone; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:8)
Image via Hannah Faith Photography