This post is going to be a little different for me.
It is intended to be an ongoing post about a decision I have made to be more disciplined in my writing efforts.
Today, as I write this, it is Ash Wednesday.
I am not Catholic, but my father’s family was, so ever since I was a child, there was some sort of observance of Lent in my home, even though my father was not a practicing Catholic as an adult. I became a Christian at the age of 12 when I gave my heart and life to Jesus, and you can read my testimony here.
The way I observe Lent is not the way Catholics do obviously, but I have kept the idea of a sacrifice of something in order to ponder the atonement, and the great Grace that I am now a partaker of through the gift of my Salvation. For me, Lent is a Faith-discipline that helps me draw closer to Jesus and helps me grow in some area of my faith that I know needs some work.
Personal spiritual growth is the goal of my Lent observation.
I like the idea of Lent. I think its important to practice personal faith disciplines to help us grow as Christians. Lent to me is a great way to observe a personal fast by giving up something with the intentions of using that sacrifice as a way to draw you closer to the heart and mind of Jesus through prayer, or meditation on what Jesus has done for you.
Lent is supposed to make us think and ponder how Jesus became our Sacrifice for sin when He died on the cross taking the punishment that we deserve. He shed His precious blood so we could receive forgiveness if we personally accept His wonderful gift of atonement. He was the Victor when He arose from the dead 3 days later, on what we now celebrate as Easter Sunday, or Resurrection Sunday.
In my observance of Lent, I usually give up something that is a favorite of mine, such as chocolate, or bread, or sweets… not an easy sacrifice for me, but in the missing of whatever it is, I try to ponder afresh the greatest sacrifice of all that was done in my behalf.
Other times though, I have given up what I call the “not-doing” of something. By this I mean… I commit to something that I know I need to be doing on a regular basis. So, one year.. It was worrying about things when I was having a struggle in this area. (harder than it seems!) Or, maybe in a season where I had neglected my Bible study… I made a fresh commitment to read and study my Bible every day. So I gave up the “not studying” of my Bible. (haha, yeah, that’s how my mind works!)
That’s what I have done this year also. My Lent commitment is that I have given up the “not-writing” habit that I seem to be struggling with. In other words, I am committing to a Lent of writing regularly, which in this case means daily. This includes, but is not limited to, writing new posts for my blog, Shadowing Enoch. I try to add at least one post a month, but have been lacking some on that goal due to some life changes I have been trying to find the balance in. Beyond that, my 40 days of writing commitment is about writing for my personal faith walk in the many ways I have of sorting out my thoughts on this Faith-journey. Sometimes that is simply brainstorm writing, and often it is prayer writing which I do in my personal prayer journal.
So, just to be clear, I am not committing to a new post on the blog everyday… that would be overwhelming, and probably quite dull. I am just committing to personal writing in a variety of forms, which will hopefully lead to an extra post or two in its aftermath, but is chiefly for the goal of my own personal Spiritual growth.
So, how is this post different than others?
I am going to periodically take you along on my Lent commitment. Letting you know what it is doing for me; how it is coming along, and what I am learning. Although I am doing it as a Lent commitment, it doesn’t have to be that way if you choose to imitate me on this 40 day writing journey. You can do it simply as a 40 day practice or discipline at any time during the year.
I desire to be a better writer/blogger, and that takes practice. I do not aspire to be a “famous” or world-renowned writer… I am way too untalented and extremely SHY for that! But, I do want to point people to Jesus! And on this blog, I can still be shy but send out the message of who Jesus is, and what He has done for me, and what He wants to do for you! I don’t want my “bad” writing to be a turn-off for anyone reading this blog… and yet I know that my style isn’t for everybody. Nor is someone else’s style something that works for me. I just want to hone any skills the Lord has given me for being who I am, and writing in my own honest voice, but not deterring the hearer by lack of basic writing skills. So… practice and discipline are just that! Practicing this craft of writing and honing any skills God has given me. The biggest skill I hope to hone is the desire to keep on writing!
I will update periodically… and just add to this post. If you are interested, check back regularly, and will add the updates as I go. My hope and prayer is that I will become more disciplined in this endeavor of writing so God can use me in whatever way He sees fit.
I will let you know!!
First Update: 7 Days in –
It has been a week now of writing, and overall, I have been successful at keeping my Lent commitment. One day, by the skin of my teeth, but oh well, I’ll take it!
I am enjoying this very much, for the most part. My writing has taken me in some new directions… can we say “bullet journal” haha! I thought I’d never like working with a bullet journal, but I bought my first one by mistake because I liked the cover, lol. After trying it out for this writing endeavor, I do like it! Not always, but for brainstorm writing and planning, yes, it works for me! I’ve even brainstormed some future blog posts using the “by mistake” bullet journal.
I have also written consistently in my prayer journal, which has been a very good thing. My husband and I are going through some heart-aching family situations right now, and through my prayer journal heart-pourings, I have come to understand that at least one of those family situations is a satanic attack requiring serious prayer battle.
If you haven’t tried keeping a prayer journal, I highly recommend doing so. It is basically, praying on paper. At least, that is how I do it. It really helps me keep focused on whatever personal prayer need I am experiencing, and it helps me to see where my fallacies are in my thinking… God just uses this format to help me see better through His eyes, so to speak. Anyway, it is a method I have used for years, and it really works well for me. Maybe you too, if you try it!
All in all, my first week has left me eager to continue writing on this Lent commitment journey. I am seeing some potential future posts to explore and spiritual battles to fight/conquer in prayer, as well as spiritual growth for me, at this one week in point. I will update again at week 2, but so far, I highly recommend this type of 40 days writing commitment. 🙂
Update: 14 Days in –
I have done well, writing in some form every day, and no skin-of-my-teeth days this week! I have written in my prayer journal, continuing to battle a family situation in the best way possible, and feeling that inner peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:7) when I leave that time of prayer writing. I think I have the beginnings of a blog post in the making that I want to share when the time is right from this personal journey.
I have also continued to brainstorm write in my bullet journal. Another future blog post in its beginning formation from this, I think. Perhaps two!
One other style of writing for me that I have employed this week is to explore my thoughts on something through personal journal writing. This week I was able to put to words a time when I felt the blogging rug pulled out from under me, which I have never shared with anyone. It was in the first year of my blogging journey, when it was very new and overwhelming for an inexperienced blogger like I was. I faithfully continued blogging through this setback, but it was emotionally hard. It took me a month or two to get my footing again after this incident occurred, and it taught me a lot about having the blogging resolve in me, not depending on what others do, or think, but to keep on keeping on for my Audience of One (Jesus!).
Lest this sound extremely dire… it wasn’t. Just a time when I thought I had a true blogging buddy, and then they left the course abruptly. I think one of the chief reasons for their abrupt departure was because they succumbed to the Naysayers all around them. This experience blindsided me more than I expected, and left me feeling very alone. Thankfully, what kept me determined, even when feeling this sudden blogging loneliness, was God gently telling me I wasn’t alone and to stay the course!
That is another thing that this 40 days of writing for Spiritual Growth has renewed afresh for me so far… made me want to keep on staying the course!
Update: 30 days in –
Sad update here… I have missed 3 days of writing! Not in a row; more like one each week since last update. And one of those days, I may have written… but I didn’t date it, so I just can’t remember! Truth is, this did really throw me after the first time, and then again monumentally after the second. It makes you feel like you have just completely FAILED in the commitment, and perhaps, technically, you have… but it’s not the end of the world. (I had to tell myself over and over!) My true goal here is to grow spiritually, and while 40 days is to ingrain the habit of writing for spiritual growth, it is just that. A self-discipline that is to provoke change and a new habit that I want to give myself over to, by guidance of the Holy Spirit. So, all is not lost! Overall, I have done well with this commitment, and I have seen an avenue of spiritual growth in my life that I intend to continue. Not legalistically, but as a personal process that helps me stay rooted in my Bible, and in my prayers, and in my processing of this life and how to do it more in Christ.
The other personal goal I have in this endeavor is just to practice my craft of writing, and yes, this has done that also. It is a discipline I would highly recommend if you are a blogger, or just find that writing helps you sort out your thoughts. Journaling is a very good way to process your thoughts, anxieties, prayers, concepts you are developing, and thoughts you have while having your Bible devotions, etc. If you are considering it… go for it!
I hope not to miss any more days, but realistically, after the 40 day commitment is done, I probably will. Life is busy, as we all know. Distractions interfere with even our best intentions. For me, making time for writing is definitely becoming a good and regular habit that I plan on continuing faithfully for the foreseeable future.
I hope this encourages you to begin or continue if this is a process you think will aid your spiritual growth as it has mine.
But without guilt if you do miss a day or two here and there!
Update: 40 days
It has been 40 days since I started this; the end of Lent officially, and I plan on continuing indefinitely. I’m sure it won’t be everyday, but I am planning for most days, as it has become a normal habit now. I do think it has been helpful to me, both as a spiritual exercise and as a writing discipline. I look back over my prayer journal, and I can see how God is answering my heartfelt prayers, and comforting me in my deepest heartfelt ongoing prayer concerns. I also see that working on my everyday brainstorm writing, either in my regular journal or bullet journal has helped me work some thoughts out in my head, and given me the beginning of some future blog post ideas to develop.
If I were to “grade” myself on how I did in keeping my 40 day commitment, I would only give myself a ‘B’ because I did miss a few days, but I still believe the habit was ingrained enough to continue.
I know I’ve not mentioned this, but for me, this all was taking place during the coronavirus time, and so it was also a good process for me to vent some frustrations and anxieties that were present during this crisis, as well as, obviously, prayers lifted for God’s presence and healing for our world. He is still in control, and this reminder, written down many times, gave me great comfort, and continues to do so.
Writing is a great way, whether you are a blogger or not, to explore your own thoughts on things, pray for things, or as a tool for applying your personal Bible devotional time to your own life. I would recommend it highly as an effective way to experience personal Spiritual growth, and also as a writing discipline if you are pursuing a writing outlet of any sort.
This blog post with its updates has helped to keep me on track… a type of accountability factor that I have employed to help me stay the course. Hopefully it will help others too who are considering a long term commitment similar to this one. As I said, the habit is now ingrained, and I hope will continue for the long haul in my life. I guess that is up to me! lol
© 2020 LauraJSE All RIGHTS RESERVED