I was reminded recently of an analogy to Lent with the story of Cinderella. The name means “the eternal girl who sits in the ashes.” Cinderella has to sit in the ashes of poverty, deprivation, humiliation, loneliness, ostracism, and emptiness before she gets to wear the beautiful gown, go to the ball, and dance with the prince.
The ashes had to do their work to prepare her for the glory, abundance, and dreams that awaited her afterwards.
We’re all sitting in the ashes right now during Lent. Some of us often go through a longer period of sitting in the ashes for years. Sitting in the ashes is a necessary part of the spiritual life that leads to our growth and maturity into who God desires us to be. There’s all kinds of movements in us that happen mysteriously while sitting in the ashes.
We have to let the ashes do their work.
How do we let the ashes do their work? We allow God to deprive us of what we need to be deprived of this Lent. We suffer through the challenges and burdens He gives us to develop endurance and perseverance. We carry whatever cross He gives us with patience. We seek forgiveness and repent when we fall and keep falling. We take our agonies and struggles with God’s will to the Garden like Jesus and learn acceptance and surrender. We strengthen our resolve to overcome and work through temptations and obstacles. We let go of what needs to die and pass on, and await new life. We increase our prayer and reliance on God through all of these things, knowing He will strengthen and be with us.
As someone who sat in the ashes for several years and came out on the other end, I now know that the ashes do their work over time in smaller ways through Lent and in bigger ways through the events of our life. Eventually, you will get to the other side of rejoicing and resurrection, and you will never quite be the same because the ashes have changed you for the better.
Let the ashes do their work and fully enter into this Lenten season.