Sacrifices of Lent


“But Jesus replied, ‘Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me?  She has done what she could…'” –Mark 14:6, 8.

Often I feel not good enough when I see the great injustices and know that my small contributions won’t change the world.  In prayer, I often voice, “I can’t make it better!  I can’t fix it!”  This past week, I’ve had many days of crying out to God because I feel like I’ve failed to protect, advocate and gently nudge with any real success.  Other voices in my head constantly shame and mock me for speaking up without the desired results.  Far too many burdens weigh on my heart, and all I can do is pray and speak when given an opportunity.

As we entered the Lenten season this past week, the Bible study I attend took a day-retreat for Ash Wednesday.  We had a time of spiritual reflection at some stations that one of our women set up.  Sandals to remind us of Jesus’ human-ness, drops of nard (a type of expensive perfume mentioned in the Bible) on cotton balls to remind us of the woman who anointed Jesus, bread and grape juice to remind us of our communion with Him.  The gentleness, silence and slowness of the day created space in me to remember how Jesus walked this earth.

Then, we had a time of Lectio Divina–a way of absorbing Scripture by listening to what word or phrase in a passage resonates with you.  The passage we read was the woman who anoints Jesus with the expensive perfume found in Mark 14.  As I leaned into the Scripture reading, the phrase ‘she has done what she could’ hit me.  After the second reading, tears began to fill my eyes.  After the third reading, God embedded the words in my heart:  I’ve done what I can, and it is enough.

Discouragement continues as I process through some of the weighty burdens; but I whisper in the midst of the despondency, “I will do what I can.”  My resolve got a second wind:  I cannot do any more, and I won’t do any less.

Risking without shame is my theme for this year.  It sounds more noble than it feels.  One of my pastors told me that he appreciated the ‘brave conversations’ I’ve opened up with him.  I told him that I wish those conversations felt heroic. I leave some conversations humiliated, dejected, wanting to run away; but I continue to risk and fight through the feelings of shame and failure so that others may know that they do not stand alone.  I am thankful that my church leaders do not wish to shame me into silence.  I tend to be the loudest critical voice of shame to my soul.  I tend to create fear inside of me that tries to keep me from doing what I can for those who have diminished voices.  Only I can overcome those saboteurs inside myself and continue to live the life of Christ.

I offer what I can in worship of Him who released me from my shame.

If we all do what we can, what a world we would have!  What can you offer as a sacrifice for others this Lenten season?  Let me hear your stories of how you are worshipping through your talents, skills, voice and actions.

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