Let’s Give It Up for Lent
While I was working on my MA, Lent was a point of contention around campus. Some students thought it was a good idea while others reacted against it. Some said quite frankly that it was “too Catholic” and others had different reservations. The school paper even did an article on it, and I specifically remember one student who was opposed to Evangelicals celebrating Lent. He said, “People just use Lent as an excuse to give up things they should be giving up anyway.”
I never understood that argument. I would think that an extra bit of motivation to do something that really ought to be done would be a good thing. Am I the confused one here?
Either way, I was pondering this again lately with Ash Wednesday looming, and I wondered. What if we used Lent to give up things that we normally don’t think of but maybe ought to give up? It’s easy (well, maybe not that easy) to give up meat or chocolate for six weeks, or at least those are easy to think of. Many people take on things like regular, disciplined prayer times or Bible reading plans, and given that Jesus’ time in the desert was one of taking on as well as giving something up, this is perfectly reasonable. I wondered, though. Could there be some less obvious things that the Spirit might be calling us to fast from?
Could Lent be a time to give up saying yes to too many things and taking on too much? Or maybe the reverse: giving up saying no to too much and ending up blocking what the Spirit is inviting you into? Maybe God is calling you to give up not speaking up and be honest about what you think and feel, even when it makes you anxious. Or perhaps the invitation is to give up apologizing for yourself and risk that God and people might accept and even love you where you’re at. Or to give up a habit of avoiding how you and your world really feel and honestly and openly look at these things in the presence of a caring Father.
We all do things out of fear or pride or because we think we have or are supposed to. Could one of those be something that Lent might be a time to give up for a bit? If you spent 20 minutes talking with God, what might He say to you and call you to?