Transform Our Hearts

 

By: Ali Hoffman

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Hi Friends!! Welcome to about the middle of Lent! How are you doing!? How are you feeling?? Amazing?! Like you’re running a marathon?? Like you’ve barely limped through a marathon? Like you feel like you are about to start a marathon, got really scared at the prospect of running a marathon, and just decided to quit while you’re ahead…?

Sometimes Lent can feel like that.

We begin bright eyed and hopeful on Ash Wednesday, fully prepared in our hearts to give up certain habits, to take on other ones, and to exercise our spiritual muscles for a full forty days. I don’t know about you, but about a week in, I’m usually full on failing at my Lenten sacrifices, or I’m so miserable, the people around me wonder if I’m even a Christian…

We’ve all been there. At the start of this Lent, I really wanted to ask God what He desired me to do instead of looking at all of my disordered attachments and making grandiose plans to sever ALL of them that don’t lead to Jesus. I simply asked God, “What do you want me to do…?”

And His reply was very simple.

“Ali, I want you to go to bed at 9:30 p.m. every night.”

….. that’s it? What about giving up drive-thru coffee?

“9:30 p.m. each night.”

Okay, but since I’ll be going to bed early each night, maybe I can wake up early and say a daily Rosary?!

“9:30 p.m. each night.”

OKAY BUT! What if I give up eating out at lunch?!

“9:30 p.m. each night.”

I was frustrated. Did God think that was all I could handle? Then, in a very clear voice in my heart He replied, “I know you have other attachments and habitual sins, but you’re not ready to give those up yet. Start with going to bed at 9:30 p.m. each night and we’ll go from there.”

Y’all. My mind was blown. Every other Lent I’ve gone through, I’ve made these huge plans to forge my path of holiness, to make great leaps and bounds sailing through sanctity, and every year, without fail, I somehow stumble in a pretty spectacular manner and fall face down on the ground.

It’s humbling, but I don’t think that’s what the Lord had in mind for me this year.

When we think of holiness or becoming a Saint, it’s really easy to be in the mindset, “Okay, X Y and Z is what I have to do to become a Saint, so I’m going to just push through and Get. It. Done!”, without realizing that the Lord is a gentle God. He doesn’t force, push, or twist your arm into becoming a saint. He gently invites you into a relationship with Him and IN THAT RELATIONSHIP, there is grace that gently and methodically works on our hearts and wills to be transformed into His own with our cooperation.

We force bad habits out of our life through sheer will and strength without realizing that when we stop and ask the Lord what He desires of us, He gives us the GRACE to not only have a habit transformation, but a transformation of the heart.

In Ezekiel 36, God talks about this heart transformation, “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts (Ezekiel 36:26 NAB). God doesn’t say, “By the strength of your own determination and willpower will you receive the necessary transformation that I have created you for.” No. He says, “I will give you…” I’m thoroughly convinced that by living in a society that says to constantly be “hustling,” or “on the grind,” etc., we believe this applies to our spiritual life as well. Don’t get me wrong, I believe we should be vigilant in our spiritual life and always be on guard for the tactics of the evil one. But I also believe we think that it’s completely up to us to become saints. We forget the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit that animates, transforms, softens, and molds us into the saints God created us to be.

Friends, God is so gentle and knows what He’s about. He knows when your heart is more accessible to sanctifying grace than you do. Constantly turn back to Him in prayer, asking for greater faith and a disposition to receive His grace, and see how radically your life will be transformed. This doesn’t just have to stop after Lent but should continue for the rest of your life!

There is great JOY and HOPE in knowing that God knows your heart, sees your attachments, and calls you into a greater and deeper life with Him. Trust that He is making and shaping and creating you into the Saint He has called you to be.

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Ali is a co-youth director at a parish in the Dallas, Texas area by day, a doodler by night, and a lover of Jesus at all parts of the day! You can find more of her work on Instagram: TheOodlesOfDoodles

 
Debra HerbeckComment