With all these posts on Lent and questions on facebook from friends – I thought I’d venture in right here.
When I started attending a SBC church in high school, we were given little dots to remind us of what we “gave up” for lent. I remember wearing my yellow dot sticker in the middle of my marvin the martian watch. I know – hey – it was the early 90s. By usually the second week of lent, if not before, the dot was almost worn off and I had forgotten my “commitment”.
My freshman year of college (a very liberal liberal arts college), the first day of lent came and I heard a girl down the hall pondering the question of what she should give up for Lent. She finally figured out chewing her fingernails would be a great activity to give up. The only things I knew about her during 3/4 of our freshman year was that there was a constant whiff of pot coming from her room, she would return early morning totally drunk, and she cussed up a storm. I wondered what good biting her fingernails would do her. No, I didn’t witness to her. Just judged her silently in my head. FAIL.
When I attended Sojourn in Louisville, even though I didn’t get up at 630am to attend their Ash Wednesday service – I loved the focus of Lent (in yes, a SBC/Acts29 church). It wasn’t focused on us – but on Christ. Amazing thought?
So, as I sit here this year, I don’t really give up anything. I choose this time of Lent to usually read books on the Cross – Cross Centered Life being one of them. And yes, I still question when people give up facebook but tell people to still message them through email, twitter, phone, text, or other forms of social media – or give up chocolate or some other food – I wonder what the point of it is. I guess what it should be is that when you don’t do something that you are giving up (like facebook) that you should instead spend the time (that you would be on fb) and contemplating your life, the Cross, Redemption, salvation. But, I don’t do that – and I would dare say that most don’t do that anyway.
So, if you are planning on “giving up” something for lent – pray and focus on the Cross when you aren’t eating that bar of chocolate or watching sports. There is more to lent than giving up something.
Christ died. We ponder, mourn, celebrate.
It’s like fasting. The point is to take the emphasis off food, and put it on Jesus (the Very One we (recovering) food addicts need more than food). To fast for the purpose of skipping a meal for any other reason isn’t, in fact, fasting.
The purpose of Lent is to draw our attention and prepare our hearts for the crucifixion and the celebration of the resurrection. It’s a specific action of taking attention away from something (food), and pointing our attention and affection towards Christ. If we don’t do that, it’s purposeless and Pharisee-like (there, I said it).
Thanks for the good words, Friend.
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For me, giving something up is a constant reminder that there’s something different about my days as they go by. Even if I don’t use the extra time/money/whatever to focus on God like I should, the void caused by the absence of something dear is poignant in and of itself. Just a thought. That said, I don’t know if I’m giving up something this year or not. I guess I’m a little late deciding, though. 🙂
Beth! What a lovely, thoughtful reply. I grew up in a home where during Lent six children gave something up, never forgot what it was, and always tried to focus our little sacrifices and gratitude on our dear Lord. It’s funny, in that same household, we were never made to feel like our gifts of love were not enough. We were also taught not to judge the sacrifices made by others, lest we act like the Pharisees.
Happy Lent–and I never think it’s too late to make a little resolution, even after Lent has begun.