Lent seems like the perfect beginning

Posted on: February 13, 2013

I was raised in a loosely Catholic home.  My mom was practicing, but what seemed to me, only just enough to keep her parents happy.  My dad almost never went to church.  My brothers and I went to church on Sundays and CCD until we were in 8th grade, and after that we were given the option to continue practicing or not.  Since I never saw church as anything but a place to go and be bored I chose to stop going after I made my Confirmation.  During my childhood though, Lent was always practiced in our home.  My mom gave up desserts and chocolate, and there was no meat consumed on Wednesdays or Fridays.  No one ever really explained to me why we did these things, they just happened before we could celebrate Easter.  I understood that it had something to do with Jesus, and why he was hanging on the cross behind the alter, but that was about it.

Fast forward to 2008.  I am now married to a nonpracticing Cradle Catholic with 2 young children, both baptized Catholic as infants, because we just had to, and another baby on the way.  It was around this time that my oldest child started asking questions about heaven and God, and the basic kid stuff.  My husband and I decided that it was probably time to find a path we could both agree on since Catholicism wasn’t appealing to filling any spiritual void we were experiencing. (Let me say that this is my experience, and no disrespect to the many wonderful Catholics practicing today!)  An invitation from my husband’s coworker would reveal our path us, and start us both on a course for a stronger relationship with God and Jesus.  We began attending a local nondenominational church, and within a year I had accepted Jesus Christ as my saviour.  Since that time my husband has been on a mission trip to Haiti, he has been baptized into Christ, my oldest child has given her life to Christ, and my middle child is expressing strong interest in also entering the waters of baptism.  We are part of something bigger then us, but still intimate enough to be personal.

So, where am I going with this.  Well, I’m headed this way, so keep going.  Recently a good friend of mine was chatting with me about Lent.  She asked me what I was giving up, and I quickly said, “Nothing.”  I’m not Catholic anymore.  I’m not doing that.  What’s the point?  But, later I began to think about Lent.  The real reason for Lent.  Not the “giving up” chocolate for 40 days, but WHY this is happening.  Why are people taking “vices” out of their lives for the next 40 days?  I’m no Bible scholar or theologian, but where my thoughts lead me was to this…Life gets busy.  It’s easy to get into a routine of the mundane.  It’s easy to dress up for church on Sunday, sing some songs, listen to a message, shake some hands, have some coffee, and go home for the week back to the mundane.  Lent is a time of remembrance, reflection, and preparation.  I’m remembering WHAT the season is for; Jesus’ time in the desert before he began his ministry and the temptations he faced from Satan.  I’m reflecting on WHY this season happens; because Jesus obeyed God’s command and was the slain sacrificial lamb for my sins.  I’m PREPARING for the end of the season; Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  When taking all of these things into account, I didn’t feel like giving up a Hershey Kiss here and there, or passing up the dessert cart for the next 5 weeks was sufficient for what He did for me.  My take is that you are to deny yourself something that you will miss.  And, during the time you are missing that “thing” you reflect on Jesus’ suffering.  It didn’t take me long to come to my personal conclusion on how I will REMEMBER, REFLECT, and PREPARE for Easter Sunday.  And here it is…

I hate to get up in the morning.  I wait until the last possible second to get up, and it usually ends with me rushing around the house to get everyone dressed and out the door.  I also hate running.  If you look back at my previous posts, you’ll see that I’ve attempted in the past to change my lifestyle for the better, and one of those attempts included doing a Couch to 5K training program.  So, this Lenten season, I feel like the burden God has placed on my heart is to rise early to run.  Both of these things are difficult for me, BUT also beneficial.  So, when I’m contemplating pulling the covers over my head for the extra hour of sleep I REMEMBER why I am doing this.  When I feel like I can’t go anymore on the treadmill I REFLECT on Jesus’ sacrifice in the desert, in the street carrying the cross, and His crucifixion and I keep going.  I am PREPARING not only my mind but also my body for the resurrection.  If the goal of Lent is to be a changed person by the end of it, what better way then to be stronger?  What better praise is there than to respect and care for the gift of flesh and bone given to me by God?

So, this is my humble sacrifice for a great one made more than 2000 years ago for me.  I’ve tried before and failed, but I think a big part of that failure rests on the humanism of my reasons.  This attempt is not only for me, but to show my love and appreciation to my Savior.

A friend shared a pretty amazing blog recently with 40 ideas for Lent.  If you’re interested in participating then I recommend checking out the post at Rachel Held Evans.  You don’t have to be a Card Carrying Christian to participate in Lent.  You don’t have to go to church or pray all the time.  You don’t have to tell everyone and their brother that you’re sacrificing a part of your life for Christ.  And you don’t have to go big.  If passing up the dessert cart for 5 weeks, or skipping the Diet Coke, or even just reading a bible verse a day is how you will connect with God this season then good for you!  If you aren’t ready to do anything that’s okay too.  It took me a long time to get to a point where I WANTED to sacrifice, and if you’re not there yet no worries.  I believe that God waited for me, and he’ll wait for you too.

 4“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:4-7 NIV)


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