Wednesday, February 22, 2012


And for those of you who, like me, were raised in certain faith heritages, I don't mean the stuff I sometimes forget to clean out of the dryer between loads.


Previously, if you asked me what I know about Lent I could tell you two things:
1. It's not something "we" (aka those in my faith heritage) really do
2. The only person I've really ever known to even talk about Lent was a friend of mine in high school.  Very tongue-and-cheek she would look at me every year (as if the joke was a new one each time) and say "This year for Lent I'm giving up sex."  She thought this was a pretty clever statement since it sounded good and, since she was not sexually active, it was pretty easy to achieve.

But this year, I feel like Lent is calling my name.

Last week, Friday, in the school office someone mentioned how her blood sugar test would be easier because she was giving up chocolate for Lent.  I kind of chuckled inside, I might not know much about Lent but I'm pretty sure that's not exactly what it's about.  But a thought started pestering me- how about you, what you are giving up?

I tried to reason with this thought and tell it that we don't really do Lent.  So as far as I was concerned I wasn't giving up anything.  Instead I questioned back- I mean really, what is the purpose of it all anyway?

And then I started realizing how I normally just slide into Easter every year, not really feeling like it's any other Sunday (other than all the kids in cute outfits).  And that for me, it's always seemed to be more about baskets, egg hunts, and chocolate.  And not really about celebrating the day that would forever change the world- the day Christ rose.

So I said okay to the thought- Okay. You show me where I need to work, where God can take something away for 40 days and help me grow and I'll do it.  I mean I don't smoke, drink, cuss, or eat too much so on the basic lenten resolutions I'm good.  And I don't want to be like my high school friend and "give up" that which doesn't really matter.  So I told the thought to show me and God can have it.  Whether I come from a faith heritage of lent-followers or not, he can have it.

Now you would think.  You'd think! That I would stop drawing lines for God.  You'd think after all those times I've told God if he can do _________ I'll do ________ . All the times I've found myself doing what I didn't think would have to be followed through on, you'd think I would know that if I open that door- I'm going to have go through it.

But maybe I knew- maybe I knew if I drew the line, I'd be shown something.  Maybe that's okay with me because maybe I'm coming to see why participating in Lent isn't just something other sects of faith do.  Maybe it's something I should do too. 

Let's think through this-- Most Christians celebrate Christmas.  You may differ on whether you tell you kids about Santa or whether you really even do a gift exchange.  But even some of the more conservation fundamentalists I know have said they celebrate Christmas as a time to honor the day Jesus Christ was born not because it's historically accurate, not because we know that Christ was born on December 25, but because if the rest of the world is going to slow down and celebrate his birth- acknowledge his importance, they can too.

So then, why not Lent?  I know Lent itself, like December 25, isn't in the Bible but the Passover can be exactly pinned down and thus so can the death of Christ.  And if you can count to three, then you can the day he rose. 

And if you're a person of faith, and you believe the Bible, you can believe what Luke says, how he tells us Christ going to Jerusalem wasn't a happenstance.  He didn't wake up one morning and think "yup, yup, good day to die.  So let's do this thing."  No, Luke tells us he resolutely turned to Jerusalem.

And yet, most Easter Sundays I wake up with more of a "let's do this thing" mentality than one who has resolutely prepared herself for being there.

And yes, I should be doing that every week- working towards resolutely being there every Sunday. (I mean I'm there Sunday mornings but I mean really being there.)  But like Christmas- I know I need to celebrate the fact that God came in flesh everyday  I just don't.  I get busy.  I run around doing and being and trying to serve God where I am as I am, but I'm not always celebrating his birth as actively as I do in December.  Because in December everything starts to revolve around Christ's birth and it's easier for me to remember (all those little babies and managers and Gloria around make it easier).

So why not slow down now.  In this lenten season.  When so many believers are turning towards Jerusalem, preparing to, in their own way, prepare for Easter- Why not stop and see where I can pair down as well.  How can I best demonstrate my resolution to die to my will and follow God's?

Not even three days after I overheard the office worker, two days after I decided that if there was something I'd do it, I was at the grocery store and I was shown.  I was shown something I do every day.  EVERY. DAY.  That in its own little way puts my trust in me over God.  Not like salvation trust, I know I can't save myself.  But the trust that I can control what people think of me- how they see me.  How much they like me.  Control how I can still feel good about myself even if they don't like me.  Every day I wake up and take my identity in my hands and control it.

Now, unlike something that could harm my body, my temple, I don't think God is sad that I do this every day.  It doesn't harm my body and in fact I like to think he rather enjoys the creativity this action brings.  I think God likes seeing the creativity (after all, he's pretty creative himself).

But I do think what isn't right is how I hang my identity on it.  How I feel that this, other than finding my identity as a child of God, is how I see who I am- how I base who I am (and truth be told, how I compare myself to others).

And so, as someone who have never ever looked at Lent as something I would ever be a part of, I'm in it.  I'm here, lenting myself if you will.  Not because I think God needs this from me, but because I need to learn something about more about God more about how he sees me.


AM said...

At, first when you mentioned the grocery store I got nervous you were giving up coffee!! But now I'm wondering make up? Either way, love the idea of the sacrifice. One of my best friend's is catholic and really takes a lot of time and prayer to decide what to give up or a spiritual practice to take on, and it makes the lent season and Easter really meaningful to her, as she says, "on the journey to the cross" at Easter.

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