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  • Writer's pictureMonica Walton

Inconvenient Love

Today, we embark on the Season of Lent and celebrate Ash Wednesday.


We literally mark ourselves as set apart for something greater.


This year, Ash Wednesday happened to fall on Valentine's Day. How inconvenient for chocolate lovers and candy sellers!

At first, this felt so strange to me.


But, as I reflected more deeply, it began to make perfect sense.


Both celebrations are set apart for greater love.


Pope Francis said, "Lent is a season of conversion, a time of freedom during which Christians seek to rediscover God's call and promise. It is time to act, and in Lent, to act also means to pause. To pause in prayer, in order to receive the word of God, to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister."


We recommit ourselves to the 40 days of Lent each year to pause and feel God's love for us more deeply. We make a plan for prayer, fasting, and giving to grow more like Jesus. It's meant to interrupt our routine, wake us up a bit, and give us a chance to reevaluate our lives by placing focus on why God became man, suffered, and died.


Valentine's Day is also a time to act and to pause. We pause and tend to someone special. We recommit ourselves to the person we love and hope to feel their love for us more deeply. It's meant to interrupt our complacency, step it up a bit, and give us a chance to express what the other person means in our lives.


There it is again -- the Power in the Pause -- (see my Feb 2nd post)


I love this beautiful idea of pausing during Lent! Pausing is inconvenient in our busy world. We are so busy....... We rush from one thing to the next..... We never complete our to-do list...... When we aren't doing, we are thinking about what we need to do...... Pausing is inconvenient......But, pausing to love is worth it.


Traditionally for Lent, people do one or more of these:

  • give up a guilty pleasure like sweet treats (fasting)

  • commit to donating to a charity (almsgiving)

  • add a holy practice like a daily Rosary or Friday Stations (prayer)

Why do we do this? How do we go about deciding our Lenten sacrifice and works?

When I was younger, I would choose something that didn't necessarily grow me closer to God or make me more like Jesus. It was simply the habit of giving up (fill in the blank) for Lent. Easter would come soon enough and give me a chance to indulge once again and celebrate having made it through another Lent. The practice didn't make me more holy.


What if we pause and ponder our motivation, and choose something inconvenient that takes real effort? That wakes us up. That shines a light on what things fill our days and crowd out time with the Lord.


Lent is a time to walk in love with Jesus and grow closer to Him. We set aside 40 days to recommit ourselves to Jesus and feel His love for us more deeply. It's meant to interrupt our routine, wake us up a bit, and give us a chance to reevaluate our lives by placing focus on why God became man, suffered, and died for us. When we look at the cross, He looks back at us and says we are worth it.


Jesus practiced Inconvenient Love.

(Mark 1:40-41) He had been preaching in synagogues and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee. He was busy and exhausted. Yet, He paused to listen and love the leper who asked to be healed. (Mark 8:1-2) He had been teaching for days. Thousands had traveled miles from home to hear him. He was exhausted and wanted to reach more people. Yet, His heart was moved with pity and He fed and blessed them all, so they wouldn't collapse on their way home. (John 18:1-19:42) He took on horrific beatings, carried his cross, and loved us to the point of death on that cross.


Why don't we choose to practice Inconvenient Love this Lent?

For many, the thought of adding something else to their daily schedule is overwhelming. Say this to a busy person and you will likely see their shoulders slump, their forehead crinkle with worry lines, and their eyes glaze over a bit. It's easier to give up sweets. So, instead of adding another task to our long to-do lists, what if we make this Lent more purposeful so that we show more love to God, to others, and to ourselves?


What if we give up something that takes us away or distracts us from God, and we replace it with something that brings us into closer union with Him? After all, that is our ultimate goal, isn't it? This will be inconvenient. This will change us. This will make the world a more joyful space to dwell in.


You might choose your normal Lenten sacrifice and action but with a new purpose. Or, you may want to try something new this Lent.


FASTING -- Doesn't have to be about food.

  • We can fast from hurtful words, gloomy outlooks, short tempers, rushing around, complaining about others, adding pressure, seeing the negative first, wanting attention, spreading rumors, harboring bad feelings, one-upping, unsolicited advice.

 

ALMSGIVING -- Doesn't have to involve money.

  • We can be charitable and generous when we choose to say something nice, speak with hope, stay calm, slow down, simplify, stop gossip, give others the benefit of the doubt, look for the positive, be joyful, smile, take a step back and let others shine, forgive, be thankful, pray rather than say.

 

PRAYER -- Doesn't have to be recitation of the same memorized prayers.

  • We can listen to audio prayer reflections, read the daily Readings, sit in silence, say a Litany of Humility each morning, thank God for 10 blessings each evening, attend weekly Stations of the Cross, meditate on the Sunday Gospels with Lectio Divina, find a prayer partner and pray together daily.

 

Inconvenient Love can feel like a one-way street. But, we are called to love -- even when it is inconvenient and even when it is not reciprocated. When another person doesn't love us back and doesn't treat us with love, that doesn't diminish the goodness and power of our love. My love still counts. My love still has meaning. My love still makes the world a better place. When we focus more on our offering of abundant love, rather than on the other person's lack of showing love, we are stopping the hurt and creating a joyful space around us.



So, even though it's inconvenient,

Love anyway!!!

Set yourself apart with greater love!






 

(P.S. I'm writing a book for Lent 2024 and would appreciate your prayers! 🙏🏻💜)



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Guest
Feb 21
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Loved this. A lot to think about.

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Guest
Feb 16
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Practice listening. Shut mouth, pay attention. Pray for others. The world needs prayers.

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walterjr
Feb 15
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Love Anyway...

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