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Preserved – Taking Lent One Step Further

A number of years ago, I got a great surprise in the mail:  “Dear Shewanda L. Riley, Our records show that you haven’t yet registered for the benefits of AARP membership, even though you are fully eligible.”   I re-read the first line a few times to make sure I was reading the right thing. I thought, “ AARP?  Isn’t that for people over 50 years old?”  Funny thing was that I wasn’t even 40 years old yet.  How in the world did I get an AARP membership card in the mail?

I thought that maybe they got my name mixed up with someone else’s.  But how many Shewanda L. Rileys are  out there?  I laughed heartily as I then looked at the red AARP card with my name imprinted on it.  I looked through the AARP membership benefits packet and thought that it might not be a bad idea to send in the membership fee, after all…..they do get great discounts.    Eventually, I threw away the card.

Shewanda Riley
Shewanda Riley

Seeing the card made me think about where I wanted to be when I’m 50 years old.  I’m praying that I will have grown and improved spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially.   It also made me think about 1 Timothy 5:24-25 which I was led to during my personal bible study once when I was looking for another scripture.   Immediately, I was struck by its simple truth:  our reputations, good and bad, proceed us.   I thought about what did I want proceeding and following me when I was 50?

During this season of Lent, many of us take similar reflective looks at our lives.  In an effort to improve our spiritual and physical health, we give up social media, chocolate, cursing, smoking and alcohol, etc hoping that by sacrificing those “fleshly” desires, we will become more like Christ.  Undoubtedly, giving up those things that we love passionately for 40 days once a year is a great exercise in spiritual and physical discipline.  However, the key to becoming more Christ like is just taking negative things out, we should also add positive things to our lives.    For example, if you choose to give up chocolate for Lent, why not add fruits and vegetables to your diet?  Instead of just giving up television, consider adding a more focused daily time of meditation and prayer.

1 Timothy 5:24 says, “The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.  In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden.”     Like a perfume that fills and lingers in a room, people should recognize the sweet perfume of truth, faith and love from our lives.   Regardless of whether we’ve given up everything or just kept some things hidden, I think God is waiting on us to make a choice to go from making temporary shifts to making permanent transformations.


Happy Resurrection Weekend…celebrate Him because He lives!

Shewanda Riley is the author of the Essence best-seller “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose after a Relationship ends.” She can be reached at lovehangover@juno.com.

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