Believe it or not, Easter is just around the corner. Which means something else is almost upon us:
I love the idea of a 40-day preparation for Easter, of refocusing our hearts and minds to spend more time in prayer and contemplation of what Christ has done for us. And I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of “giving up” something for those 40 days. Even more intriguing—and sometimes amusing–is what people choose to surrender. For example:
Playing computer games
Chocolate (now there’s a sacrifice!)
Caffeine (just shoot me now!)
And on and on it goes. (In fact, check out the websites at the end of this blog that share the multitudes of things folks give up for this season.) But I want to suggest something a bit different for those of us who make our living in publishing. How about giving up something really tough? How about giving up something like:
- Comparing your writing, your craft, your career or anything else to anyone else. Make contentment the key word and concept for 40 days.
- Checking your Amazon rank. Nope, not even once. For 40 days.
- Reading reviews of your books. Not the good, not the bad, not even the ugly. Just like that wonderful old hymn: No, not one!
- Complaining about your publisher/editor/agent/client/writer/spouse/career/family…okay, just complaining in general! My family and I gave up complaining at all for 40 days one time. It was terrible! (Just kidding!) But it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. In this Twitterized, FB posted, share-every-opinion-that-breezes-through-your-brain world, we’re programmed to complain, and to do it with impunity. So how about a 40-day fast from complaints? Maybe make it 40 days of living out Philippians 4:8: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
- Worrying about sales, the market, changes in the industry, where you’ll come up with the next book idea, if you’ll meet your deadline, etc.
- Careless words. Friends, we’re writers! We understand the power of words. And yet we so often use our words to criticize, judge, and hurt. We, above all others, should be purposeful in our words. So how about, for the 40 days of lent, anytime you’re tempted to let loose words of anger, criticism, sarcasm, judgement, you have to stop and look in the mirror. And ask yourself, “Will the words I want to speak reflect Christ?”
- Talking down your brothers and sisters in Christ. Sure, the organized church isn’t perfect. Yes, there are people who call themselves Christians and yet their words and lives tend to challenge that claim. But I’ve noticed over the last 10 years or so how free we believers, especially those I encounter in the writing world, seem to feel to talk down the church and other Christians. To say they’re hypocrites, simple minded, and far, far worse. Why not, for these 40 days, focus instead on God, on what He is doing in people’s lives, rather than on how we think others miss the mark on our standard for Christian living?
So as the Lenten season approaches, think about it. What about your career, writing, calling, words will you give up from Wednesday, March 5th, to Thursday, April 17th? And how will you use what you surrender to focus instead what really matters–not the calling, but the One who issued the call?
May this Lenten season lead us ever deeper into understanding that One and what He seeks to accomplish through us in our writing.
And our lives.