A "fearless moral inventory" is helpful during Lent. Until we come to terms with who we are and how what we think and do may separate us from God and each other, we can't fully live the lives God intends for us.
We all have old "scripts" in our minds, and these interfere with our ability to love ourselves and others. This is often the most difficult part of taking a good look at ourselves. Some of us have scripts that are so powerful and so habitual that we can't really look at who we are. We just blindly accept what the script tells us.
For example, I know a man who is intelligent, kind and has great potential, but as a small child his mother told him he was bad, stupid and selfish, and he has made some serious mistakes in the past. Even though he's "learned" from his mistakes, he can't see past them and seems to review his old script, or self, in his mind. He still "sees" himself as that lost, destructive, mistake-making person who hurt his family and those he loved. He's in a sort of "arrested development," and it's holding him back from being the man he was designed by God to be.
I have those fights with myself, too, but with different issues. We all do. Maybe you struggled with your weight as a child, or were a bed-wetter, or were bad in math, or someone told you once that you had no artistic ability … and you bought into all this as your identity. Now, you almost feel as if you're "hiding" your true self from others, just pretending to be "together, competent, professional, smart" — whatever other label you've assumed.
Consider this, though: Maybe you really ARE that "together" person now. Maybe you need to let go of that old script keeping you down.
There are some great therapies that can help you do this. You can start today, right now, by looking deeply into yourself and trying to identify those negative scripts you run in your head about yourself.
Next, find some words of affirmation to counter them. One that I like to use is "God created me, and all of God's creation is good. I am a beautiful and loving part of God's creation." You could come up with your own. Just remember to use it whenever you find yourself buying into the negative thoughts you have about yourself.
Thoughts and words are powerful. Try to keep your thoughts and words positive and affirming — both to yourself and to others. Make this part of your Lenten practice. Try being only affirming and positive from now until Easter and I can almost guarantee it will change the way you interact with the world.
Teresa Angle-Young is providing articles about the Christian season of Lent and ways we all can join in the practice of Lent. She is a pastor who is simply seeking God, loving neighbors, and trying to follow Jesus.