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Dear Lenten Pilgrims,

Five years ago, I wrote a Midweek Message titled “Ten Other Things You Might Give Up for Lent,” which was subsequently picked up and published by Ministry Matters, our denomination’s online publication. You may wish to refer back to it as a guide for your Lenten journey.

This year, I’ve decided to add to that list, with three more aspects of life that you might choose to surrender over to God:

Give Up Negative Self Talk

We all tend to be our own worst critics, and there is nothing inherently wrong with identifying ways to improve. But there comes a point when self-motivation can drift into self-mutilation, and you need to offer grace to yourself. Identify the triggers that get you wandering toward self-negativity, and before you go too far, remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and deeply loved by God. (Psalm 139:14)

Give Up Confirmation Bias

Whether we realize it or not, we each have implicit biases that govern the way we seek, process, and internalize information that confirms our prior beliefs and values. There may come a point where such confirmation bias insulates us from an awareness of and appreciation for a diversity of perspectives, and diminishes our capacity for empathy and the possibility of reconciliation. Adopt a mindset of openness to opinions that are not your own, so long as those opinions are not harmful to others. Diversify the sources from which you get your information. Assume a posture of humility, curiosity, and empathy in your conversations with others. (1 Corinthians 3:1-9)

Give Up Your Fear of Taking the Next Step

We would all prefer our lives to have more certainty and less ambiguity. We would love to have our future paths brightly illuminated and unmistakably clear. But God doesn’t always guide us in this way. What we have, most of the time, is just enough clarity to take the step that is before us, without knowing what next step is beyond that. As hard as it is to live this way, this is how we develop trust and obedience in our relationship with God. Take things one step at a time, at God’s pace, in God’s direction. Over time, you will discover that self-surrender – and not self-reliance – will move you into the bright future God intends for you. (Proverbs 3:5-6)  

Grace and Peace,