Many people have already decided what they will be giving up for Ash Wednesday. I'd like to challenge you to look at things from a different approach.
I was chatting with Father Miles of St. Luke's Episcopal Church over coffee a few weeks ago, discussing ways that Spreading Joy could encourage his church. We were discussing the difficulties that we all face, the clouds that tend to hang over us, causing us to just see only the negative things that are surrounding us. He then had the idea that for Ash Wednesday, he would challenge his people to do something a little different this year. Instead of giving up coffee, Reese Cups, fast food or other things of that nature, that he would get them to focus on giving up negativity and replace it with JOY!
I love the idea, but as one that is always looking past the negativity and searching for joy on purpose, I know how difficult this can be. (Wait...am I being negative right there? uggghhh!!)
Replacing the negative, discouraging and depressing thoughts and actions with positive will certainly help anyone who decides to do so. When you are on purpose looking for the millions of little blessings that are swirling about you at any given time, you will be a much happier, positive person. Everyone will see a noticeable difference and want to know the source of your JOY!
Not wanting anyone to fail, I suggest that you replace, replace - replace. If you are trying to get rid of one thing, it is always easier to do so when you replace it with something better. Tell me, what is better than true joy from deep within? We can't always change the circumstances that brings the black cloud of despair over us and try to keep us down, but we can make a choice about staying "in" the negativity or moving past it.
I was speaking with a co-worker about Lent and giving up things for these 40 days today. She said that she will fast from something that will move her closer to God, such as gossip. She doesn't think that giving up coffee or Reese Cups would be wrong, but for her, personally - she wanted something that would help her to build her relationship with the Lord.
What are you giving up? Will you join others in giving up negativity and replace it with JOY, happiness, contentment and pure delight? Do you think this will be easy to do? Why or why not? If you fall short one day, will you keep going or will you simply give up?
I pray your cup overflows with unspeakable joy for these next 40 days and beyond!
I'll have the honor of speaking and encouraging the members at St. Luke's on Sunday 3/14. I hope you'll click the link and check out this gorgeous Church.