This week we entered the season of Lent and yet it seems as if last year’s Lent never ended.

It seems to me the customary “giving up something for Lent” just won’t work well this year.

Traditionally, observing a Holy Lent includes self-examination and repentance by prayer, fasting and self-denial …

We have given up so much already.

Each day we press on through this seemingly never-ending sacrifice as we wait to be released to our restored lives. We have been tested; we have changed in more ways than we know. Among other things, this pandemic is delaying and postponing times of tenderness and affection.

My sadness is deep when I can’t hold a weeping patient or hug a distraught family member. How can I be a chaplain when I can’t get close? Chaplains have had to think of creative ways to be supportive.

And so, I was thinking that this creative spark can be used to find ways to get closer to God. This will take a bit of inward thinking as I observe myself and my reactions. I can use the everyday irritations in my life to become closer to God.

It begins with a simple idea: What if God is speaking to me and I am just not hearing it? What if God is calling me to observe and identify the irritating moments throughout my day and figure out why they are so annoying? Once understood, they often melt away.

If God is talking to me through these testy times, what is God saying? Irritability is a normal human experience; it’s what we do with it that’s important.

A simple example: I am watching a TV show and the picture or sound goes out for about 15 seconds — this digital blink gets to me. But am I putting too much focus on something that really doesn’t matter?

Instead of caving into the frustrating moment, I can bring to light what’s behind it.  It can be beneficial to figure out what is at the root of my frustration. Sometimes just naming the irritation can relieve its prickliness. In those everyday moments, I can learn to let go.

Isn’t God is speaking to us through the irritants of life, too? We can examine those things that put us in a bad mood and take the sting out of them. A good mood is just as contagious as a bad one!

Each day, as we press on through this yearlong sacrifice, perhaps we can find a new way to connect with God by becoming calmer and restoring peace of mind. Self-examination and prayer - and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word.

After the pandemic, I hope my future self will say that I made good choices, that I reached out (even from behind a mask) to make someone else’s life a little better and I slowed down enough to see what really matters.

Margie Adams, MA, is the staff chaplain at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.

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Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.