Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter, John 3:16 and the meaning of sacrifice

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent - a tremendous opportunity for a holy period of self-reflection, growth and prayer.


The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. (Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

The true essence of the Lenten season is often overshadowed by what we are going to give up and how hard that is going to be. I shake my head thinking how giving up chocolate or some other vice or luxury is considered difficult compared to the sacrifice of John 3:16.

This Lenten season, I have a suggestion for anyone who might be looking to go farther than simply giving something up for Lent. Perhaps, like me, you are standing on the cusp of a big life decision or you face a major life change. You've arrived at that great rift, that great divide.

You ask yourself why it is so difficult to decide, so difficult to move forward. I suggest that the answer lies in the conflict of your beliefs. You know that you are capable, talented and prepared. But doubt lingers.

You think that you’re not good enough, or you’re unworthy or undeserving. You see your dream, but there is a pervasive sense that you lack something. You struggle with a duality that keeps you bound: you know you were meant to fly, but you still have limiting beliefs keeping you tethered.

My gentle suggestion is that instead of, or in addition to, giving up up something for Lent, pay particular DAILY care to your inner conflict. Examine your beliefs about yourself.

As tempting as it may be to blame other people, circumstances or situations, the battle is not with anything on the outside. The battle is within.

The treasure you seek, Joseph Campbell once said, is in the cave you fear to enter.

Go within. That's where the answers lie.

Do not fear the tomb. We know how the story ends.

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