Lent, Honesty, Mental Health and Freedom

“Holy God, our lives are laid open before you: rescue us from the chaos of sin and through the death of your Son bring us healing and make us whole in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
—Common Worship, the Church of England

“Did you ever look inside yourself and see what you are not?”
—Flannery O’Connor

As this year’s Lenten season draws to a close, I have been struck by the way time and awareness and health are intersecting this year. A good friend of mine has a degree in psychology and counseling, and she was telling me that mental health is really about self-awareness – seeing who we truly are and being able to hold the good and the bad, the dark and the light, the best and the worst all together in one piece without lying to ourselves about who we really are. This holding together of the diverse parts of the self is what psychologists term ‘coherance’ – my friend is especially good at helping people talk through their own lives, look at their own stories, and come to places of deeper coherance where they can hold the whole story together, in one piece – finding better mental health.
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Rooted in God’s Peace – a Prayer

Have you ever read a quote a prayer that makes you, compels you, to read it again? And maybe again, slower the next time? Every time I have turned to this prayer within a slim volume of daily prayers I sometimes use for devotions, I am struck by its truth. I find myself turning to it often this season, and so I know that I need to pay attention to this wisdom.

In the busyness of this day
grant me a stillnes of seeing, O God.
In the conflicting voices of my heart
grant me a calmness of hearing.
Let my seeing and hearing
my words and my actions
be rooted in a silent certainty of your presence.
Let my passions for life
and the longings for justice that stir within me
br grounded in the experience of your stillness.
Let my life be rooted in the ground of your peace, O God,
let me be rooted in the depths of your peace.

– Saturday Closing Prayer, from J. Philip Newell’s “Celtic Benediction: Morning and Night Prayer.”

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Lent: Repent, or Work Resting

“Repentance is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god;
it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking that you had, or could get, the strength, education and training to make it on your own;
it is deciding that you have been told a pack of lies about yourself and your neighbours and your world.

And it is deciding that God, in Jesus Christ, is telling you the truth.

Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.”

-Eugene Peterson

“Jesus said over and over again, ‘Repent’: re-evaluate the whole way you are living your life in light of this great fact: ‘Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand.’ … You see, the kingdom of the heavens has been made available to you and to me. God has made himself available to human beings.

It is the renovation of the heart we are after… This inward work is much harder than mere outward conformity. It is harder because we cannot see it, test it, control it. We cannot program the heart of another human being. We cannot program our own heart.

But this is also what makes it easier. God is the One who sees the heart. God is the One who tenderly programs the heart, always allowing time and space for our will to turn, turn, turn – responding in a thousand ways to God’s divine Love.

We are part of God’s great renovation project for human beings. We work, but we work resting. We worship and labor under God’s abiding grace.”

– Richard Foster

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