I didn’t grow up observing Lent. In fact, I think I’ve spent most of my years shaking off any notion of it. Honestly, it all seemed rather trivial to me; giving up caffeine, soda and social media to prepare your heart for Easter.
Because giving up your morning coffee would somehow remind you pick up your cross to follow Jesus? It reminds you of His suffering, as you suffer your afternoon withdrawal headache?
I could totally change the pronoun from you to I here.
I start each day with coffee and usually end it with a glass of wine. I scroll through my social media news feed multiple times a day and I rely on my devotional subscriptions for my quiet time which usually only happens sitting in Cubicle Land at my corporate job; a job I am both thankful for, yet find little satisfaction in the fulfillment department.
If these bits of life are virtually insignificant compared to Christ’s suffering and death on the Cross, can there be significance? Yes, of course. There can be added value if the denying of one’s desires turns your heart and time towards the gospel of Jesus. But, are we merely going through the motions? Simply wearing the badge of humbleness, checking the box?
After my first fasting experience last August, and reading more about liturgy and seasons, I began to pray about Lent. Like the time of fasting, I wondered if it could be a time of focus for me to intentionally seek God. Examining my heart and my intentions to ensure I wasn’t merely checking my own boxes in an attempt to move God to heal my family, I contemplated if the season of Lent could take me to a deeper place in my faith.
Most days, I feel I already lay myself down for my family, not that I don’t wrestle with that dying daily. So, in praying about what, if anything, I was supposed to give up during Lent, I casually brought up the subject to my counselor as we gathered our things at the end of our session.
There is a sacredness that can be found in tradition, and a freedom that can be found in true joy.
My counselor encouraged me to let go of the idea of self-imposed boundaries during this season and instead intentionally focus on seeing the threads of joy that God is weaving into my life. Each day. For 40 days. Writing it down; this daily account of joy.
Turning my eyes and my heart away from those things that I deem not right and absent in my life, I’m making every attempt to turn them towards the good things of my days. I am intentionally seeking God’s hand as He turns my mourning into dancing, my sorrows into songs and my ashes into beauty.
I will make every attempt to fight the battles of my life with points of joy. There is always something to be thankful for, something on which to find specks of joy shimmering on the surface. My prayer during Lent is that God would reveal this Holy Spirit given joy and these visions would open my eyes, becoming rooted in my heart for the darker days that lie ahead.
Lent, therefore, is not merely a 40-day season of dying to ourselves, but a daily surrendering. I’m working on it. Each day. For the number of my days.
I have been crucified with the Anointed One—I am no longer alive—but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God’s Son, the One who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me. Galatians 2:20 (Voice)
What about you? Do you give up anything for Lent? If so, how does this denial help you focus on Christ’s sufferings?