“In the course of our life, we accumulate a different kind of waste. We might call it toxic waste for the soul; shameful moments, destructive patterns, and tragic choices… Lent provides forty days for us to behold Christ and His cross, not only to understand it more deeply, but also to cast our soul’s toxic waste upon it.”(p. 62-63 from The Good of Giving Up by Aaron Damiani)
My wife and I have this closet upstairs that we’ve been trying to ignore for a while. Maybe you have a closet like this yourself, the one you fill with everything that doesn’t seem to go anywhere else. Ours has winter clothes, old movies, a few exercise relics from optimistic former times. Recently, on a Saturday afternoon whim, in a moment of clarity, we had a revelation; How great would it be to have that additional, functional space, if we simply cleaned out our closet? It was like an epiphany! Imagine the possibilities of storage, of order, of design that could take place if only we had a fully cleared closet. Why hadn’t we thought of this before? Because of course, there was only one catch. In order to use the closet, we needed to clean the closet, and as we soon discovered, cleaning out our closet was going to take a lot of hard work.
I think some of the beauty of Lent is its invitation to us to clean the cluttered spaces in our hearts. As the year has moved along, and the ordinary time of summer has passed into the colder seasons of fall and winter, so too have our hearts and lives accumulated clutter large and small. For some of us it’s been the simple distractions of home, work, school, kids, and friends. For others of us, it has been significant temptations, enticements, or perhaps even sins that we’ve tried to tuck away, nervously hoping that out of sight will eventually become out of mind. However the Church has been given the season of Lent from our Lord precisely because He knows our need for a season of serious cleansing. A season of examination and self-reflection. A season of fasting and refraining. A season where we give generously, to be reminded of what we’ve been given. The season of Lent is an invitation to clean out the cluttered spaces of our heart, precisely because we’d far rather ignore them. The truth is, this type of cleaning is likely going to take some serious work. But there is a vision set before us of possibility and hope, of what God can do with the new space in our hearts that have been cleaned out for Him. May you therefore be courageous in this season of Lent to open up your own cluttered closets, so that you may behold the cleansing Christ wants to bring.
- Where have you seen “toxic waste” or “cluttered spaces” building up in your life?
- What does “cleaning” those cluttered spaces look like for you this Lenten season?
- How might fasting, prayer, confession, or almsgiving overlap with the cleaning God wants to do in you this season?
- In the same way closet cleaning opens new space for design possibilities, do you see any creative opportunities to replace an area of temptation with something new and good?
Find more practical guidance as you walk through Lent in The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent, a new book by Resurrection church planter Fr. Aaron Damiani.