“Create in Me a Clean Heart”: Looking at Psalm 51 for Lent

“Create in Me a Clean Heart”: Looking at Psalm 51 for Lent March 23, 2022

For this Lenten season, my ultimate goal has been to let go of the scorn I’ve recently held against other Christians. I asked God to help me cleanse my heart of the bitterness I’ve been carrying against a few individuals. This journey has been incredibly effective, and when I stumbled upon Psalm 51, I saw that it encapsulates my goal!

Heart to Heart

Before Lent began, I had assumed that I’d already spent an appropriate amount of time getting rid of lingering resentments I’d carried since the end of last year. Well, I was wrong.

It’s petty, ridiculous, but what made me realize I had a bitterness issue was when I accidentally dropped my phone and mentally blamed my Christian “enemy” for it.

That was embarrassing, as it should be. I know that part of this had to do with me bottling up my anger around this person to avoid conflict. When my irritability about the phone came out, I think my mind took it as an opportunity to vocalize contempt against them.

A significant part of my resentment against this fellow Christian was them not practicing what they preached. They had portrayed themself as somebody benevolent and uplifting but had no qualms saying some outright merciless stuff towards those they deemed a “problem”. My last straw with them came after they privately told me that they especially valued me, but then turned around and told a different story to our colleague.

I think part of my anger against them came from me waiting, hoping for some sort of accountability from them. Ironically, after I parted ways with them, I heard from our colleagues that they’d started showing more vulnerability and empathy than before. My prayers to God asking for help letting go of this contempt and for them to change paid off.

(Christian) Sibling Rivalries

Another part of my goal for Lent is to look at my Christian “opponents” through God’s eyes, not my own. I’m not sure how much of it I’ve shown in previous blog posts, but the truth is that I’ve not looked at them as diplomatically and kindly as I should’ve in the past.

This is especially true for my “Side B” LGBTQ+ Christian colleagues, who don’t share my views about affirming gay relationships. We “Side A” individuals have been prone to making callous assumptions about why they choose celibacy over affirming their sexuality. Not understanding their background and thus their reasons for their choice are a big part of this condescending view.

I’ve always taken my affirming background for granted, and because of this, it’s been hard for me to understand the other side of this debate. When I wrote my last blog post, I delved into the testimonies of a few prominent Side B LGBTQ+ Christians, and their stories were heartbreaking. Compared to them, I’ve dealt with much less suffering and hardships.

While Side A and Side B LGBTQ+ Christians may never fully see eye-to-eye, I hope that we can still acknowledge our common ground and let that be a force for God’s Love.

A New Heart

For this blog post idea, I wanted to find the verse on my mind that had something to do with a “new heart”. I was so excited when I saw it in Psalms!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

At my friend’s Episcopal church, the rector told us that we should nail to the Cross anything that gives a throne to death in our hearts for Lent. When he listed anger and bitterness as one such thing, I felt convicted. And for good reason!

His guidance, this Psalm, and God’s help have been vital in aiding my purge of these old resentments. With both my Side B colleagues and the Christian person I’ve held contempt over for so long, I’ve been able to look at them with newfound compassion.

I’ve gained a better understanding of what Jesus meant when He told us to love our enemies. As discussed in my online Bible study group last week, mercy is a big part of this love we’re meant to have and show. When we look at our opponents with mercy, like Jesus said when He begged God the Father to forgive His enemies for not knowing what they were doing, we successfully do God’s will.

Featured Image by Connor Brennan

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