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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What to do for Lent...

I've been thinking about giving up chocolate for Lent, but honestly... I don't know if that's the right thing to do.

Now hear me out... this isn't about my inability to give up chocolate, though it would be hard. Maybe. I don't know. I've done it before.

I guess my real question is why... why am I considering giving up anything, let alone, chocolate, for Lent? I started having this discussion with myself when our small group was supposed to bring what they were giving up for Lent to our meeting on Sunday. My initial response was, "I don't know what to bring. I'm not giving up anything for Lent." Then I started questioning myself... why am I not giving up something for Lent?

So I started to think about this whole concept of Lent and what people tend to give up. I remember a guy who gave up something important to him dietary-wise for Lent and what a great spiritual thing it was him, and he tells this marvelous tale of the spiritual work it did him. Of course, it also made him a big jerk because of him not having this thing. Others will verify that yes, while this guy wasn't consuming this dietary thing, he was really hard to be around.

Is it worth gaining that "spiritual" benefit if you are a jerk to others around you?

I mean yes, I could give up tea, which is something I love and I would miss oh, about every ten minutes. So I would be drawing close to God (in theory) a lot more often than I do now. But without my bedtime tea, I probably wouldn't sleep as well. Without my morning tea, I wouldn't wake up as well. And without the yummyness of tea, I wouldn't consume enough water and wouldn't have the same health benefits. And yes, I would be impossible to live with.

But what kind of witness is that to my family? It's okay for mommy to be mean because she's doing it for Jesus?

Which is why chocolate might be a better alternative, except that I admit, it's another self-medication tool. I don't eat it a lot, but on the days when the kids are really getting to me, God help you if you're standing between me and my M&Ms.

Should we find other coping mechanisms besides tea and chocolate? Sure. But I'd like to think they're a lot better than say, crack. Or alcohol. Or cigarettes. Or a lot of other unhealthy things I could be doing.

Some people give up the Internet for Lent. Nice thought, I'd love to, but there's this thing called work that requires me to be on the Internet.

I told hubby I was going to give up sex for Lent. He didn't think that was funny.

The more time I've spent thinking about Lent and what I'm going to give up or what I'm going to do, or what spiritual lesson I can learn, etc. etc. etc., the more I've realized that all of these conversations with myself and God have missed the point. The point is not Lent. The point is God. I can do all the spiritual things I want, but if the point isn't about experiencing more of God, then I've missed the point.

Which means I'm not going to be joining the cool kids this year. I'm not giving up anything, especially anything that's going to turn me into a jerk. I do a fine job being a jerk all on my own without having to try to be spiritual about it. One of my friends said that you can also take something up for Lent, which I guess I'm kind of doing, because I am reading more Lent-focused literature, but I'm not going to start some kind of weird new habit, like knitting all the beatitudes into a scarf.

Instead, I'm going to just follow the rhythm of the season, and let God take me on whatever journey He has in mind for me.

What about you? What are your plans for Lent?


Kay Day said...

Last year I gave up a lot! And I complained to everyone! I also really heard from God. But I think I could have done without the complaining.This year I'm giving up less. I'm not going to talk about what I'm giving up. I've decided that can turn into a contest. I've told my family because they need to know what I won't be eating, but otherwise, it's not important.And this year, I've decided to also give up complaining about how much I miss the stuff I'm giving up! :)

Heather said...

You make such good points. It's not being a good witness if what you give up makes you snap at others and so on. I cracked up at your suggestion to your husband. :) Our rector has spoken about taking on additional obligations during Lent (such as daily Bible reading, volunteering at a soup kitchen, etc.) which I think is interesting.