A Lenten journey to appreciate God’s light


By Jenna Ebener
A reflection

I was pondering what to do for Lent this year when I realized I was already doing it. Often, Lent is portrayed as involving some sort of personal sacrifice so we can fully appreciate the resurrection of our Savior on Easter. We need to find some personal darkness in order to yearn for the light of Christ. This thought process reminds me of a quote I keep on my fridge that was on one of my tea bags — “Without the darkness, you would never know the light.” I think that quote sums up those Lenten messages.

It can be so easy to be sucked into the whirlpool of life and forget how much we need and depend on the light of Christ. We can take the countless blessings of life for granted or forget how much we truly have to be grateful for. We can get swept away in busyness and our nonstop culture and forget to slow down enough to really see and appreciate the presence of God each day. It can be good to take away some of life’s comforts so we can reorient our eyes on God, who gives us light. It is healthy to let go of some of the things that we think we depend on so heavily.

However, Lent is not only about giving something up. It is also about moving towards Christ. Sometimes that means turning away from things that distract us from God. Other times, I think it is not so much a matter of sacrificing something but finding ways to turn towards God more. Being someone who has been in a period of personal darkness for a few years now, I was struggling with the idea of seeking additional personal darkness by giving something up. I was contemplating how my current darkness could help me grow closer to God. I realized that one thing I fear about the darkness I am already experiencing is that, at times, it feels like the darkness could swallow me whole. So that is when I decided the best way I could turn towards God this Lent is by embracing my current darkness.


I meditate daily but have been putting off the practice of a 20-minute meditation a day for quite a while now. Whenever I tried it, it never seemed to help. Twenty minutes can feel like a long time when there is a lot of darkness. This Lent, I am intentionally sitting with that darkness every day. I am using that time, not to expect great change to happen, but to allow God into that darkness with me and to simply be. What I am realizing is that the more I can sit with that darkness, the more I can appreciate God’s light.

What darkness have you chosen to sit with this Lent? Maybe you are intentionally adding some darkness into your life or maybe you already are dealing with enough darkness. No matter where you are in your Lenten journey, I encourage you to have the mindset that if your focus is on how the darkness is helping you appreciate the light of Christ, you are already doing enough. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).

(Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavior disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)

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