Monday, February 23, 2009

Lenten Thoughts: Balance and Decluttering

At the current moment, I am working on three upcoming retreats! With all of these retreats to work towards, there's a lot to juggle. I was doing some research on one of the topics I want to talk about in the retreat that's mid March and came up with some nice ideas around using Lent as a time to declutter. I thought I'd share a few of them here, with you.

Susan K. Rowland
does an amazing job in this article - of breaking down the weeks of Lent into six steps, each involving an area of your life to de-clutter and clean throughout the forty days. I've paraphrased her thoughts below, but if you want to see the Biblical passages she sites for each event, please click over to the original article.

Week 1: Clearing your surroundings of clutter
This week is full of locating a donation box, and over each of the five days of the week, finding five things in your home that you can donate to someone who may need them more. These items are taken from:
- the kitchen
- your bookshelf
- the linen closet
- a storage area
- clothing.
On the last day, you're to drop the collection off as a donation.

Week 2: Clearing your work life of clutter
The second week focuses on eliminating "busy-ness," stress, and workaholism. On each of the six days of the week, ponder one of these thoughts:
- To whom do I give my energy? Is it career, work, and chores? Should I look to reorder these priorities and how?
- Is there anyone who has laid a heavy burden on my shoulders? Are my burdens God's, or are they the result of human selfishness?
- How much of my busy-ness is dedicated to earning "a place of honor" in the eyes of others? Do I need to revise my thinking about this?
- The image of a tree, planted by a running stream is one that is constantly nourished. How can we be like that tree?
- What kind of "fruit" is my life producing? Is it the lasting fruit of the Kingdom, or is it the kinds of things that will not last beyond this lifetime?

Week 3: Clearing unforgiveness from your heart
This week, we look to see if there is someone we need to forgive. Ponder on the following, over a day during the week:
- Does it ever seem that those who respect you the least are those who you are closest to? Sometimes forgiveness starts with a person's own family.
- It's good to keep forgiveness in perspective. Take some time to thank God for all of the times God has forgiven you.
- How does our example play out for those around us? Do we teach children around us how to love and forgive?
- As a Church or a community of faith, sometimes there are disagreements. In order to be strong, a group can not be divided upon itself. Is there anyone in your community of faith that you need to forgive?
- Take some time today and write the names of those people that I need forgive, and ask God to bless them.
- Ask God for healing, and recognize that sometimes healing requires the help of others like counselors or clergy. Seek the help if it is needed.

Week 4: Clearing worry from your mind
This week is about letting go of being worried about what other people think of you, and not being afraid of being bold. Pray during this week for the strength to do both. Think on the following:
- Have you ever trusted in God for something, but then needed to wait to see the outcome?
- Can I really trust in God for everything? What would this life be like if I did not have to worry?
- Even Jesus said that he could "do nothing on his own." How can I learn from His example? What is there in my own life that I can ask for God's help with?
- Do I ever do things seeking the approval of others, even above approval from God? Pray to put God first in those moments.
- Do I worry about what others say about me? Do I feel the need to set the record straight when that happens? I will ask for guidance from God on this.
- Sometimes doing the right thing is hard, because it can bring ridicule from others. Ask for the strength to continue on the right path, even if it is not the popular thing to do.

Week 5: Clearing your relationship with God of clutter
- How can I treat people more mercifully and gently? What draws me to treat people otherwise?
- In moments that we've fallen in doing the right thing, take the time to treat yourself kindly and ask for forgiveness.
- Do I share myself with God and Jesus and let them share in my life?
- How do I keep God's word?
- How have I experienced a deep relationship with God?
- Ponder the passage "“I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This is the essence of what prayer should be. How does this change my image of what my relationship with God should be?

Week 6: Free to love and serve
This is Holy Week!
- Is my love for God, Jesus and life impossible to hide? Do I love Jesus with abandonment and lavishness?
- Have I ever denied God and Jesus? We need to remember that each of us is weak, but God's love is constant.
- Can I wake each morning and remember to pray?
- Like washing the feet of others, what simple services can I do to help others and show them their worth in God's eyes?
- Consider the love that is involved with a Father giving his only Son, and being happy to have saved us. Has there ever been such a love?
- By conquering death, Jesus shows us that we do not need to be afraid of anything. What is more important in our lives than that?

I really like this idea of making room for new things with the coming of Spring and Easter, and feel that I will be revisiting this article again and again in the weeks to come.

1 comment:

Liz said...

This is a fantastic article! There are a few of those that I need to work on.