What!? That’s right. Lent is not a time to resolve to start using that gym membership I signed up for at the beginning of January again.
It isn’t the time to resolve to shed that extra five pounds I’ve been carrying around since the holidays, to get my closets organized, or to learn to knit…that is unless those things truly and honestly help me grow in my faith and closer to the Lord. Which they don’t.
I have found that Lent, to me, is about deepening my relationship with my King.
It is about shedding my attachments to this world and some of the comforts I’ve become accustomed to. I am working on replacing the longing for those things with a longing for more intimacy with Christ.
During Lent, I often give something up that I use or consume daily, as a small reminder of what worldly possessions Christ had when he went to the cross.
When the desire for the thing I have arises, it is like a small prompt to say hi and a quick prayer of thanks for all the amazing blessings in my life.
The hardest of all these “giving something up” was, hands down, the time I resolved to drink nothing but water, no ice. It was difficult, but it significantly increased the number of times I prayed any given day and was a legitimate sacrifice.
The other approach I frequently use is the “do something extra” method. My favorite was the year we decided to intentionally and explicitly live out the corporal works of mercy. This was a fantastic way for our family to collaboratively celebrate lent and taught my children to use the gifts and grace God has given us to serve others.
We focused on an act a week and took action and as a result we grew closer to the Lord together.
And one more thing: I used to think that talking about my Lenten sacrifices was a sign of a lack of humility. Now, I realize that talking about how I (and others) practice Lent has spawned so many new ideas that have helped me grow in my faith. Sharing Lent with others has challenged me to be just a little more sacrificial in a world where comfort is a standard expectation.