That as we give up things which give us pleasure, that all we can do is consider the things that cause us pain and suffering.
Part of this is because the word miserable has changed its meaning. In the acting community Les Misérables is affectionately referred to as ‘The Glums’. However, the better translation is “those seeking mercy” (I went to see it again in Manchester last week and was reminded of the tension between a legalistic rather than a merciful approach to life.)
Seeking mercy is seeking of a loving response, even if one doesn’t feel one deserves it. It is allowing someone else to see who we really are and to let them love us.
This means that in Lent we take the brave step of not being defined by things. Not being defined by what we eat or drink, want to have or how others see us. We are far more than external things and to prove it to ourselves we seek through Lent to give them up and to see ourselves as God sees us.
Bishop Jack used to say that everyone should say three things to themselves as they look in the mirror in the morning. “God knows I am wonderful, God knows I get things wrong, God loves me!” Knowing that you are lovely, for who you are rather than what you have, what you buy, what you consume should be freeing.
Yes, we can all be a bit tarnished and needing polishing. Just like I know I need to exercise more in order to be healthier. Equally I need to clear away the clutter and false definitions of who I am, to get to see the ‘real me’ who God loves and values.
L’Oréal Paris tell us to buy their products, “because I am worth it.” Christian believe that “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son, that that whosoever believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
God holds that we are worth it, the cost for God was the life of his son. We still are worth it because he loves us and he wants us to have eternity. So have a lovely Lent and focus on what really matters and see yourself not in terms of possessions but through God’s eyes, “because you’re worth it.”