If there is one thing I do each morning at the very least (besides drink coffee), I recite this prayer: “God, I offer myself to thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do thy will always”!

There is a close correlation between this prayer and the bold statement when Jesus pronounces, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?”

I learned this prayer years ago while attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. My sponsor urged me to commit this prayer to memory and pick a special place to recite this prayer with her as part of my third step work. Like the good little AA student I was, I did as I was told and we recited that prayer together in the sanctuary of the church I was attending at the time. Just me, her, and God in that big, dark, and quiet sanctuary.

The way I had been living life before sobriety was not working. It was in my ultimate wilderness experience—lost, tempted, and tired—I turned to AA 13+ years ago. Living sober for me requires a “right sizing” of my ego—of my edging God out—to make space for the kind of love, God’s love, that feels unattainable without that space making.

This Lenten theme that hovers around ego feels close to me. It’s a journey of the heart that has evolved over time and changes through the different seasons of my life. No matter the season, the act of being relieved of the bondage of self, of losing life so that life may flourish is both challenging and beautiful. Our egos can be a great and powerful thing when “right-sized,” knowing that we all share this creation together and can find common bond in God’s dream of justice on earth.

We hope you’ll take a journey of the heart this lent, too. Please make sure to pick up a commitment card that lists some ways you and your family can participate in this Lent’s theme of ego.

—Eli’jah Carroll