Ash Wednesday Reflection - Luke 18: 9-14 by Laurie McAnally
Event Time: Feb 10 at 4:00 am
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
"I may not be the best mom, but I'm better than her."
"I only cheated on my wife once, I would never engage in a long-term affair like my co-worker."
"Compared to that family, our kids turned out pretty well."
Comparisons. We all do it. We use it to define our place in the world, to soothe our fears that we're not quite living up to our potential. Maybe to assure ourselves that even though we are sinners, there is something worth loving.
The Lenten journey can be difficult. Mainly because it calls for a time of self-awareness, a time of thinking, a time to prepare ourselves. And giving up something is always hard. I always think I should give up sweets - and here come the Girl Scouts. And I can't find the discipline within myself. The most success I ever had with Lenten disciplines were the times I gave up sodas and yelling at my child. Those were victories that lasted long past Lent. But chocolate, no.
Perhaps instead of comparing our journeys with others, we can find it more fulfilling to celebrate the small victories within ourselves. I passed up the candy jar at work for a whole day last week. Believe me, that's a big deal.
Or maybe, just for Lent, I could stop comparing myself to others; positively OR negatively. That's a Lenten discipline that could have a lasting effect. It could change my life, and the lives of those around me. And isn't change what we all want? Deep down, we know we can do better.
And God, if you could help me pass up the candy jar occasionally, that'd be good, too.