It's Lent. This is a season dedicated to removing those obstacles that keep us from being the people God intends us to be. It can be great time to assess where you are based on A.A.'s fearless moral inventory.
"A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke. Taking commercial inventory is a fact-finding and a fact-facing process. It is an effort to discover the truth about the stock-in-trade. One object is to disclose damaged or unsalable goods, to get rid of them promptly and without regret. If the owner of the business is to be successful, he cannot fool himself about values. We did exactly the same thing with our lives. We took stock honestly. First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations." -A.A. Big Book p.64
That has always been a powerful bit of writing to me. What we must ask ourselves, I think, is do we underestimate who we are or overestimate who we are? Do we magnify every character (and physical) flaw, or do we minimize our shortcomings? And do we even have the ability to know which we do? In other words, are we lying TO ourselves ABOUT ourselves? That's where a fearless moral inventory comes in. Lent is a great time to really search our souls, to look deeply inside ourselves and honestly assess who we are. Sometimes we don't like what we see. Other times we may discover that because of old scripts in our minds, we're unnecessarily hard on ourselves. This moral inventory is critical to starting to love ourselves, and to target specific traits we wish to improve. It's also a time to really understand God's grace and mercy. God loves us in spite of our flaws and foibles, but also enables us to become better through the life, teachings, example, and grace of Christ.
One good way to begin this moral inventory is to set aside 10-15 minutes each day to spend in meditation. Begin by finding a quiet and comfortable spot, but not so comfortable that you fall asleep! Take some deep, calming breaths. Close your eyes. (For an excellent article on breathing, go to this article on WebMD.) Then just spend some quiet time with yourself. If your mind wanders to other people or circumstances, dismiss those thoughts and bring your mind back around to yourself. Really try to look at your actions, your attitudes, and your emotions and begin to look at those parts of yourself that you feel need some work. Do this each morning for a couple of weeks of Lent. During the day, be intentional about your actions and reactions. If you become angry or sad or frustrated or irritated or judgmental, stop, take a breath, and ask yourself if you are manifesting the person you want to be, your best self, the creation that God intends you to be, full of love for self, for God, and for others. And remember, you can't control anyone else, but you can control your own actions and reactions.
Lastly, before you go to sleep at night, ask God to reveal God's love for you so that you can show that love to yourself and to others.
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.