I love to think of our faith journey as a personal pilgrimage we each take with Jesus. In the Gospel reading back on Sunday January 29th, we journeyed with Jesus up to the top of the ‘Mount of Beatitudes.’ And there we stayed, over the next four weekends, listening to Him instruct us on, as Matthew Kelly might say, becoming the best version of ourselves. We heard the Attitudes-to-Be (or the Beatitudes), we heard His call for us to be salt and light to the world, to love our enemies, pray for our persecutors, and so on.
Now we move with Jesus towards another mountain – Calvary. Throughout these 40 days of Lent, we make our way across the valley and begin the climb once again. This 40-day journey is likely to be arduous, requiring us to think carefully about the baggage we bring along. How about we set down our bags, open them up, and have a look inside? What have I been carrying around with me? What have I stuffed way back into the corner of that bag? What specifically is Jesus calling me to empty myself of and leave at the trailhead?
Self-Criticism? Negativity? Anxiety?
Anger? Pride? Lust? Envy?
Give it to Him! We’ll walk lighter; not just for 40 days, but, potentially, forever. When we make it to the garden on Easter Sunday, there will be no tour guide waiting at the gate, handing back our stuff! “Here you go, Miss, here’s your negative thinking back. And you, Ma’am, don’t forget to pick up your anger on the way out.”
How does one simply set down that habit or thought pattern that we’ve lugged around for years? Is it possible that I might actually live without self-criticism, negativity, anxiety, anger, or envy?? I believe the answer is Yes – in a continual ever-deepening relationship with Jesus. Below, are 3 steps that have us lean into Jesus to free ourselves of the ‘stuff’ He is calling us to release. These steps are based on the work of Neal Lozano and Unbound, Five Keys to Freedom in Christ (www.heartofthefather.com)
Step 1 – Repentance. Jesus’ first word in the gospel of Mark is “Repent.” Repentance is the expression of sorrow and acknowledging our participation in sin.
Step 2 – Forgiveness. Journeying with Jesus requires a willingness to forgive from the heart. Often, the person we find hardest to forgive is ourselves.
Step 3 – Renunciation. Each Easter, we renew the vows of our baptism, beginning with, “I renounce Satan and all his works and all his empty promises.” Renunciation is a declaration that I will no longer make a home for sin or the deceptions and power behind it.
Here’s how I’ve used these steps to help me unload self-criticism from my bags.
- Jesus, I’m sorry for speaking unkindly to myself.
- Jesus, I’m sorry for placing so much pressure on myself and not placing my trust in you.
- Jesus, I’m sorry for not accepting myself.
- In the name of Jesus, I forgive myself for putting pressure on me to be perfect.
- In the name of Jesus, I forgive myself for comparing my accomplishments to others’ accomplishments.
- In the name of Jesus, I renounce the lie that I am not worthy.
- In the name of Jesus, I renounce a spirit of self-criticism.
- In the name of Jesus, I renounce negativity towards myself.
Now that our bags have so much space in them, how about we fill them up with intention? What would be helpful to carry with you as you journey? I’m claiming self-acceptance, peace, and deep trust in the Lord.
What will you claim for this next leg of your pilgrimage?
Copyright 2017 De Yarrison