A clean heart

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.  -Psalm 5: 10-14

As the ashes were smudged into a dot onto my forehead yesterday, I could think of little else than Psalm 51. So many years have passed where I had intended on making a prayerful lent, turning away from sinful thoughts, words and actions and yet, I failed miserably. I followed only the skeletal outlines of Lent with no substance–it was often empty, and I meandered through the motions. 

The heart has good intentions, but the mind and my sinful being takes over and rather than getting back up, I gave up. And the 40 days become just as any other 40 days, riddled with daily woes, worldly people, those who lie and inflict pain. No matter the season, these issues will never disappear. There will never be the perfect day. There will always be reason to be vengeful, to lash out, to inflict harm with the tongue or the pen or the hand. 

In Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus outlines a guide for us to live each day. Nowhere tucked in those verses does it say to be spiteful, vengeful or seek justice. Nowhere does it say to be selfish, and really, isn’t that what it is all about? It is all about  me. How did someone hurt me? How did they hurt MY family? MY friends? And we  I want to exact revenge. 

And while I give up my usual chocolate and candy, I know it is much more than the sweets that sometimes take a front seat opposed to more nutritious fare. It is about sacrifice and becoming a little Christ the best way that I can. When the desire for these sundries shout out to me at various moments, I remember why I have given them up, not for nothing, not for a silly tradition,  but to be close to Him. Those moments I can pray to Him for strength and remember his insurmountable suffering for me.  With the giving up, I am trying also to give up my own evil ways. 

I want a pure heart so that I can see Christ. I want to be merciful so I am shown mercy. I want to be a peacemaker so I can be a child of God.  And with those wants, and the desire to be close to Him, I also know that persecution follows because it followed Him first, but if I embrace this suffering, I can inherit the Kingdom of God. 

So, as the little dot of ash on my forehead reminded me of where I came from and where I will end up, it encourages me to be a better person. To strive to live a holy life, and through my failings and sufferings, hopefully I will become a little more like Him. 

There is so much yet for me to do

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