Lent started just over a week ago, and today I start a new project of sorts to give me a better focus on God during this special time (yes, it’s okay to start late). Rather than fast from a particular food or activity during this season, I typically carve out some extra time to focus on God by using my spiritual gift of encouragement. This project I’ve mentioned involves taking that in a different direction. I plan to carve out time a couple times each week to reflect on my healing, how God has fulfilled it. For me, that is best done through writing or journaling (which I already do on a daily basis in the interest of maintaining my overall health).
The past couple weeks, I’ve contemplated the importance of regular meetings. “Meeting” can allude to an array of subjects to discuss at said gatherings. While I have noticed that having regular meeting times provides my life more structure and meaning, I have also contemplated the effect of regular meeting times for worship and community with God’s family.
In college, I found it easier to manage my symptoms of depression, anxiety and PTSD. I created a routine and stuck to it, successfully accomplishing my goals to regularly exercise, pray, have mealtimes with friends, maintain my leadership position at Campus Christian Fellowship, attend worship services throughout the week and complete my school work and projects. I felt good about these tasks and my activities; I felt connected and enriched. I could see my growth. I have only recently noticed the pattern of meeting in the context of worship and spiritual growth having a significant role in keeping my focus and perspective on track. I was regularly reminded of Scripture and how God’s love fulfills it on a daily basis. I also met with a counselor and mentor to help me apply that to my life to keep my focus on the light rather than the darkness that tends to hover around me. All those meetings took up a considerable amount of time, but they made it possible for me to continue moving forward, and, most importantly, in the light.
The transition from college to the so-called “real world” can prove rough for everyone. Fortunately, I know I am not alone. Several friends have shared my struggle in finding a meaningful job or selecting the direction they want to take their careers. Transition of any sort has its difficulties. I just can’t help but see the importance and benefit of transitioning into more meetings to maintain the structure and stability of corporate worship and community. Even someone at a recent support group meeting mentioned how attending three different support groups every week for a while made it possible for her to step away from her destructive path; she even emphasized that continuing to attend meetings (this is more than fifteen years later) keeps her on that track. Sadly, as this same person shared, she’s been around long enough to see people get sober from drugs for years and then go back once they stop attending meetings. We all need constant meetings to keep our focus and accountability in perspective.
That brings me to a new goal. The past several weeks, I have adjusted my schedule to make it easier for me to regularly attend the church service where I feel most comfortable and the Celebrate Recovery program I feel most at home. Even a couple weeks of attending both meetings gave me a better structure and a sense of stability to keep me on track to progress my healing. I know I will add more meetings, but that gives me a good start. I can also rest assured that both those meetings maintain a focus on God’s grace and love.
Lent is a time to fast and focus. God can use focus and perspective through meetings to keep us on track. What meeting can you commit to attending, even just during Lent to give your time to improve your relationship with God and your life?