Lent is a season of introspection and reflection, a time of, with the help of God’s loving Spirit, honestly considering who we are in the light of who we aspire to become.
I do urge you to be cautious. If you are like me, you are often a demanding and unrelenting self critic, a tendency that becomes most pronounced in the wee hours of the night. If you are like me, it is in the hours between midnight and dawn that reasonable self assessment is prone to becoming destructive self-damnation. If you are like me, it is in the watches of the night that Lent can give way to self loathing.
Perhaps those of us who are prone to beating ourselves up when we need to be sleeping are well advised to keep Psalms 63:6-7 in mind. It reads, “When I think of you on my bed, and meditate you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.” For me, these are words that can help keep the meaningful practice of Lent in its appropriate channel.
The last verse of the Ruth Duck hymn, “When We Are Tested,” is also helpful when the demons of self-disparagement threaten to run rampant. “When we have struggled and searched through the night, sorting and sifting the wrong from the right, Savior, surround us with circles of care, angels of healing of hope and of prayer.”
I pray for us all a healthy Lent, a season that is a gateway of hope rather than a doorway to despair. May God so help us.