Last week kicked off the 40 day span of Lent. Growing up, I remember vaguely hearing about Lent as something my Catholic friends did, deciding whether or not to give up chocolate or caffeine. Two years ago was the first time I started to understand what Lent really stood for--more than denying yourself some of life's little treats. Yes, that can be an element of it (allowing us to identify with Christ's suffering on the cross), but it's more than that.
photo by locator
photo by locator
These are 40 days where we anticipate Easter. Where we look around us and see our need for Easter, for Christ's death, resurrection and conquering of evil. Where we see our need for that kind of eternal hope in a world that is filled with suffering. But that the suffering will come to an end, and is coming... It is a time when we see that hope and realize our own brokenness, it is a time of repenting for our sins and appreciating the freedom that Christ brought us with the first Easter. That is why we can celebrate come Easter morning!
Without that understanding, "giving up" things for Lent is pretty pointless. It can too easily become legalistic, more about counting down to when we can finally have a sweet or a cup of coke rather than identifying with "the reason for the season." Last year, I decided to join the "giving up" club. I gave up soda, my friend gave up shopping. I knew others who gave up Facebook. But then, once Lent had passed, I went back to not thinking twice about ordering a soda. It mattered for a few weeks, but then the importance of it wore off, as most things do.
This year, I wasn't going to give up anything. But as I'm working through my month of not being aware of the power of my words regarding my husband, I realized how important that awareness is in every part of life, not just my marriage. I hope to use this 40 day stretch of time to ingrain a new habit--one learning to eliminate negativity from my speech--that will last long past Lent. I'll take any negativity to God or to my journal, but make an effort to keep it from my speech, which will be hard because oftentimes that can make for great conversation!
Experts argue that it only takes 21 days to learn a new habit. Lent is generous, giving me twice the amount of time to reach that (or at least a noticeable improvement!). And by the grace of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I will.
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Is there anything on your “giving up” list this Lent?
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