Here is an Ash Wednesday confession: I don't like to face the hard things! - Especially when I am looking at the dark parts of my own soul! I am that person who can easily run from the need to face the deep, difficult issues of life when they come my way. It has been a huge defense mechanism of mine for years. But... I am learning. The practice of looking at the "yucky" stuff (self-examination), is what has formed me over these past few years. Deep down I believe that it is what leads to understanding my strengths and gifts and my place in this world. Once that happens, I am free to serve others out of who God has made me to be. Then – a huge relief - I understand my significance as God’s beloved daughter.
All that to say – today is Ash Wednesday. I was raised a little Southern Baptist gal- no liturgical practices for us! No way! So, discovering the traditional Church calendar and the liturgy has been extremely enriching to me.
One of my literary mentors is Ruth Hayley Barton. Barton says:
· "Lent is an ideal season for engaging more intentionally in the process of self-examination. One suggestion would be to begin each day with the prayer of self-examination in Psalm 139:23, 24. You could even paraphrase it a bit so that it is a more penetrating and personal expression. Here is the way I will be praying this prayer this season: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and illuminate my thoughts and false patterns. Help me see if there is any unloving or unfruitful way in me and lead me on your life-giving path."
Maybe you want to write your own version of Psalm 139:23-24. It is a great way to start these 40 days as we journey toward Easter.
My Ash Wednesday Prayer
"Shine the light in the dark places, God. I need to see what is hiding there. Then show me what to do about what I see."
Remember: Self-awareness +Service to Others = Significance.