It is Lent again!
Last year, I wrote a big blurb about my grappling with the whole to lent or not to lent debate.
I ended up lenting. I did the 40 days of water project to raise money for wells and HIV/Hepatitis testing in Uganda.
The experience was a struggle, to say the least. I had caffeine withdrawals. I learned what it was like to live without. I ended up raising something like 150 dollars in beverages I didn’t drink (it is disturbing how much we spend on fluids). Yes, it was worthwhile on a fundraising standpoint. On a bonus front, I also lost about 10lbs due to the decreased calorie consumption that resulted (not that it really stayed off or anything). And maybe it did deepen my walk with God… Maybe. Its not like I prayed every time I got a coffee craving.
So, when this time of year came around again, I was kind of puzzled yet again.
I don’t think I have to lent. There is nothing in the Bible that says to lent (and I know lent is not a verb, but it is fun to pretend it is one). And I definitely don’t think I HAVE to give something up. I know it is to remember the time that Jesus was out in the desert without food or drink. But, the principle of the season from what I gather is to also become closer to God. And sometimes adding on is better. Or at least knowing that what you give up is being replaced with something that makes you closer to God (like giving up Facebook to spend more time with family/reading the Bible).
When I wrote my post about Lent last year, people shared with me their plans to give things up, but even more than that, to take things up. And I found that really cool.
Does that mean I don’t think people should give things up?
No. It just means I think we need a reason beyond “because that is what we do” and beyond some of our secret motives like to show you are devout or holy or just to lose a few extra pounds (I thought it… And I bet you may have too).
I really liked doing the water thing. With my schedule and such, it would be a big sacrifice. And honestly, after evaluating it, as nice as it is, I wouldn’t be doing it with the right motivation and, honestly, it would not go well. That being said, I still recommend it to others (check out the 40 Days of Water page here)!
This year, I want to make a positive change. I want to walk closely with God. I want to do something that makes me different as a person, not just change an eating habit or my time management.
So, I have decided to make some attitude changes.
Like many women, I like to complain about people and gossip and all of that touching stuff. I want to stop doing that. My sunny disposition has a big mean streak, although I think many people do.
I know that may not be realistic. It is not likely I am going to stop gossiping and complaining and such. It should be possible, but on my own strength it definitely is not.
But, it is something to work on, something to be mindful of.
The plan is to keep my people bashing to a minimum. If it is constructive. If it is something I would say to their face, then I can say it elsewhere. But, if it would be hurtful, or if it is not useful, then I shouldn’t say it. It is a good rule of thumb in life. And, to be honest, I don’t always use it.
In Sunday school this week, we talked about striving to apply theology in practical ways. One of the things we addressed was the use of our words. How we address others, what we choose to discuss and such. I was feeling really convicted about this.
Further to that, I want to try to be less worried about what other people think of me. To not get offended by petty disagreements or unsolicited advice. To grin, bear it, pray about it and get over it.
Many of my lovely followers provided me with that advice and much encouragement last week after I posted this and it was so appreciated. It reminded me that I am who I am and that I can’t get beaten down by people. In fact, it is more harmful to both myself and others when I do. Instead, I need to forgive, pray for the person and move on with things. Sometimes when I feel hurt by stuff, it is because it hurt my ego. And really, that isn’t what it is all about. I need to remember who/what it is all about.
How convenient that it is the time of year where making these sorts of changes is encouraged more than others?
This mission will bring me closer to God because, well, without Him, I am not going to pull it off. In fact, I still probably won’t pull it off because I am human and flawed (and so are people I know).
But, this is something for the long term. Not something I will kick when Easter hits (at least, I really shouldn’t). It won’t be a perfect change, because as I said, I am human, but movement towards change is a good thing.
So, I guess I can say I am lenting again. Even if it isn’t in the conventional sense of the word. Plus, then, I can have my coffee.
I think it is one of those theological grey areas. Jesus didn’t do it. The Bible doesn’t lay it out. But, it can be a valuable part of some people’s faith walks. So, I am yet again giving it a whirl.
Are you lenting this year? What do you do for the Lenten season? Why?