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His work, not mine.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season.
Every year, I look forward to the giving up of something
in hopes of being better able to reflect on Christ. 
It’s a time for me to spend a season more intentionally focusing on what Christ has done for me.
In theory, it’s beautiful.
But, I have to tell you, some years, I’m much more focused on what I’ve given up than I am on Jesus.
Take the year I abandoned sugar for instance… 
I’m sure every single person within a two mile radius was sick to death of me by Easter’s arrival.
I was so addicted to sugar, it was nearly impossible for me to think about anyone or anything but sugar.
It’s pretty embarrassing to admit, but I had a very had time focusing on anything Jesus had done for me
because I was begging him to help me accomplish what I was trying to do for him.

So, I started wondering about Lent a few weeks ago.
I couldn’t, for the life of me, come up with something to surrender.
I was willing to give up anything, but nothing seemed large enough to offer the Lord as a sacrifice.
And then it hit me.
Nothing is large enough.

Why is it that we all struggle to “do” for the Lord.
It has to be that every human heart is drawn to the law because we think if we do the law,
 we’ll feel better about us.
We set out in every facet of our lives to DO, DO, DO in order to feel right.
But, the truth is, we were never meant to be able to follow the law perfectly.
It was given to us as a tutor to lead us to Christ. {Galatians 3:24}
It shows us our great need for Him.
Even still.  We all get so easily entangled by the trap of a works faith, the try hard life.
We try hard in our marriages.  We try hard in our parenting.  We try hard in our friendships.  
We try hard at work.  We try hard at church.  We try hard in our communities.  
And, we definitely try hard in our relationship with God. 
It’s the age old struggle between doing and being.
No wonder I vow every year to surrender something that I love during Lent.
Deep down, I believe that the going without will draw me closer to him.
The truth is, I couldn’t be any closer to him because He holds me in the palm of His hand.
Deep down, I believe that going without will make him love me more.
The truth is, He created me and knows every detail of my being and he loves me without fail.
Deep down, I believe that going without will prove to Him that his death for me was worth it.
The truth is, my salvation comes from Him alone.  It is not from my works.
It is grace that is free.
In that moment when I realized that nothing I could ever sacrifice during Lent would be large enough,
His truth washed over me once again, and I knew that HE WAS ENOUGH.
I want to spend Lent focused on Him.  
His love.  His grace.  His forgiveness.  His righteousness.  His death.  His resurrection.

This is such a part of my story.
…this work hard, try hard, performance crap.
I’m so grateful for Jesus…so grateful for my sanctification journey. thankful He keeps showing me places in my heart where I’m still trying to earn His grace.

My prayer during Lent is that He lavishes us with more and more of His grace.
I pray He overwhelms us with how high and wide and deep and long His love for us truly is.
I pray He reveals to our hearts more and more those parts of us that are still trying to earn His love.
It can show up in the sneakiest of ways, like Lent.

{thankful for}
273. Jesus, who came to set me free.
274. the changes I already feel after going gluten free.
275. our play date with MB and her girls today.
276. a warmed up cup of coffee from this morning.

Beth - I don’t know, but I would def. think that you are must be on the same wavelength! EVerything you write about on this blog seems to be my life-story. I too struggle with the do good mentatlity and I’m always left with nothing but guilt. I strive and strive and then I think everyone else is supposed to be doing the same. I had a major melt-down on this subject just this weekend:) Thanks for the encouragement!

LLH Designs - You nailed it! I’ve only given up something for Lent once…chocolate (my favorite treat). All I did was think about chocolate and counted down the days until I could eat it again. When that day came, it was CHOCOLATE I celebrated, not Jesus. I want to be willing to lose it ALL for Jesus, not just for Lent, but all year long. I want to give up what I want and surrender to what He wants.

Big hugs to you!

LLH Designs - P.S. I somehow missed that you had gone gluten free! Welcome to the club! Life changing…after Jesus, that is! XO!

GLENDA CHILDERS - Great thoughts on Lent.

Life with Kaishon - Such a great post. Thank you for this.

Tiffini Kilgore - oh girl…your words echo deep deep in my heart
i can’t even tell you .. this is where I have been sitting
for quite sometime..and it just won’t leave me alone.
Keep sharing it Tara..this THIS is what He wants us to hear.
know..and LIVE
I love ya..I am swimming in busy and I am about ready to jump ship:)
just not worth it..know I am missing you. Crazy huh? Haven’t even met ya
we will someday

theelizabethhighsmith - with tears i say thank you
“My prayer during Lent is that He lavishes us with more and more of His grace.
I pray He overwhelms us with how high and wide and deep and long His love for us truly is
I pray He reveals to our hearts more and more those parts of us that are still trying to earn His love.” He revealed His love and grace afresh in me through this post. Praising Him for you and for answering our prayers.

Petie - This is a beautiful post. I did give up sweets this year, but I am also praying for the people that annoy me, irritate me, get under my skin and for a few family members who I just can’t stand. This seems like an easy task, but has been very difficult to do on a daily basis. My ego is revolting at the thought of praying for these people. So I have been praying for the willingness to pray for them.
I love reading about other peoples thoughts on Lent and Loved what you wrote.

Megan - The ‘try hard life’…you have me thinking for sure.

Tracy is ... Loving Pretty Things - AMEN, friend! This exact sentiment is what is on my heart this Lenten season, too. Who am I? Insignificant compared to His glory, but completely significant to Him. I need to fill my heart with HIM, as thats all He wants from little old me (and you…and everyone!).

Fabulous post – took the words right out of my heart.

Happy Lent. xoxo

Sarah - This is so how I have felt this year too. I have given up many things for Lent, and just couldn’t find something that felt right this year. Then I read an article by Karen Lehman that talked about us doing something for Him every day during Lent instead of giving something up. Along with the Bible study of James I am doing right now really struck a chord with me. I need to be doing something more for Him every day during this season. Not out of guilt or obligation, but gratefulness and thanks for what He did for me. Thanks for sharing, friend. Great thought for all of us!

Tricia - Oh, this is wonderful! I think your idea of where to focus your attention during Lent is perfect ♥

Flower Patch Farmgirl - So happy to hear your thoughts! I grew up never celebrating Lent. The concept was mostly foreign to me. “Only for Catholics.” (That’s what I thought.) Over the years, I have dabbled in Lent. This year, I’m drawn hard to the idea of sacrifice. My sacrifices seem pretty small and insignificant, but still.

I hear what you’re saying with this: “Deep down, I believe that going without will make him love me more.”, but what I’m feeling deep down is the belief that going without will make ME love HIM more. That’s what I’m after – more of Him. I don’t think there’s only one way to get there, but for me, I’m thinking this is part of the journey.

Love you, always and ever!

Vicki K. - Thank you for this post. What a great reminder to take a big breath and look at the cross – and dial back the obsession to Do! Already, this is a great beginning to the Easter season.

Claudine - Wow… this is beautiful. I bookmarked your blog and just pressed on tonight because I started my own blog, so I want to put a list of blogs I read on my own.

Your words touched me on a deeper level. Here is why: my resolution this year was to be CONTENT; I want to feel I am ENOUGH. And here you are, as His instrument… telling me yes I am.
You are doing what He wants you to do the most: love Him and spread His word. It is not easy, to show your faith like that. Congratulations, and THANK YOU.

Carolyn - Being Catholic I have always participated in lent. It is such a deep time of reflection for me. The sacrifices that I make each year are a constant reminder for me of Jesus and his ultimate sacrifice. This year we are eating strictly Paleo which also means giving up my beloved sweets. We also have days of fasting or abstaining throughout the season. During this time when I am tempted, or hear the rumble in my stomach I have automatic thoughts of Jesus. It makes me stop throughout the day a reflect on Jesus, and makes my sacrifice seem piddly (is that spelled right?), and I always reminding myself that if Jesus could hang on a cross for me then I can surely handle my sacrifice! I am also reading a daily lenten devotion!

Love your posts as usual, and I love that more people are participating in lent as Christians!

Cat - Wow! Loved this post. thank you. really spoke to me. The “work hard, try hard, performance crap”…yea, I’m there too. This really spoke to my heart and I seriously thank you! Lots of love and blessings, cat

Lemonade Makin' Mama - Okay first of all… I love this post somuchIcanhardlystandit.

Second of all, I have been SUPER struggling with this and you just made it all better. I was wrestling and wrestling with WANTING to give something up, but as of yesterday I still hadn’t come up with anything that felt “right.” I was so afraid that if I gave up a food item, I’d turn it into a diet, and I really couldn’t come up with much else… I was starting to regret ever mentioning it on my blog! Though I love what it’s about… the whole thing was feeling kind of burdensome because I couldn’t get my act together.

Thank you for posting this… I get it now- the reason WHY I was feeling that way. Thank you GOD for Your grace!

queen bee tracy - I’m sorry to be commenting in May on a February post but I just found your blog and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your words. This writing on Lent just spoke volumes to me as “what to give up” is something I struggle with every year. It will definitely be on my heart next year as I remind myself that living for Jesus with true gratitude is the best thing I can give him, during Lent and beyond. I’m looking forward to following you. Have a fabulous evening.

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