LENT 2016 BLOG BANNER copy

Editor’s Note: DC Service Corps member Josh Maxey reflects on the fact that if we focus too much on what the world wants of us, it will be harder to discern what God wants of us.

Philippians 4:6-7, NLT Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Lent is the most beautiful time of the year. Most people look at me with utter shock when I say those words. Lent is my favorite season in the Church’s liturgical calendar, not only because it is a season that prepares us for the great Paschal Feast, but also it is a season of purification where we remind ourselves that we are nothing without God, and that we belong to him.

Each year I watch as loved ones scramble on Fat Tuesday to figure out what exactly they will “give up” for Lent. Some will give up chocolates; other will maybe give up eating hearty meals in solidarity with those experiencing poverty.

Through this year of service in DC, I have come to truly understand poverty, both spiritual and monetary. Every day, I walk into my service site with a sense of gratitude to God for all of the blessings that He has bestowed upon me. The homeless population that I serve, though they do not have a lot of possessions in the worldly sense, has taught me so much about my own faith and about total trust in God.

One day, I asked one of my vendors experiencing homelessness, “How do you keep your faith in such dire situations?” He told me that he simply adopted the model of “Letting Go and Letting God.”

Letting Go is about freedom, the freedom to allow God Himself to dwell in our hearts so that He can work through us and for us.

This season of Lent has been especially challenging for me to let go – whether it be habits or relationships that put a wall between my heart and God, or letting go of past mistakes, which in my opinion, is the most challenging. Each Sunday, when we recite the Lord’s Prayer we say, “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This prayer also is a reminder that we should forgive ourselves.

Looking back, I think of how not letting go and putting total trust in God has been incredibly stressful. For example, for the longest time, and it will come as no surprise to many, I have been thinking about entering into some sort of ministry, in particular seminary. This process has meant actively discerning God’s will for my life.

Not being able to let go of my hopes, dreams, aspirations, or what I believe the world (i.e friends, family, and coworkers) thinks I should be or what I should do with my life left very little room for God to work in me.

This season of Lent is a moment in time when the Church challenges us not only to give up chocolates and cakes, but to truly give up things that cause us to turn our attention away from God so that our hearts and our souls may be truly abandoned to Him.

My prayer is that God will continue to give us the grace to let go and fall into His heavenly embrace, for in His arms is true perfection, true freedom.

Reflection Questions: What is drawing your attention away from God? What do you have to let go of in order to re-focus your attention?