I’m thinking about Lent. It starts next week. Lent is that time in the church year when we prepare ourselves for Easter. That’s one way to look at it anyway. Lent is a time of self-reflection – a time to look at what should change in our lives and about ourselves.
Lent is often considered a penitential time – a time of confession and radical re-orientation.
Traditionally, it is a time when people give something up. Often, people will give up something like chocolate.
The idea is to give up something to make room for God. It is best when we give up an idol – something that we place as more valuable than God.
Lent is 40 days, which matches the 40 days Jesus spent time in the wilderness being tempted by the devil.
Over the years, my relationship with Lent has varied. There have been years when I have been very strict about following Lent. There have been years when I haven’t done anything. This year I feel inclined towards giving up some things. I’m still working on what they are. I think what I give up will not be something traditional – like chocolate. It won’t be something that I love in the sense of enjoyment. I think what I give up will be something that I love because it makes be feel either right or superior or special or something else. Maybe I give up responding in anger to things I read that upset me. Maybe I give up reading the news. Maybe I give up knowing the answer to questions and force myself to respond with a question before answering. Maybe I give up some kind of privilege that I have in my life. Maybe I give up some money. Maybe I give up phone time. Maybe I give up extra work time. Maybe I give up some weight and bad eating habits. Maybe I give up being annoyed at people I love. Maybe I give up grudges I have been holding. Maybe I give up withholding prayer from people/groups that I consider my enemies. Maybe I give up trying to do it all.
I don’t know what I will give up right now. I still have a week to figure it out. The point is this – I give up something so that there is more room for God – more room to hear God. More room to see God in others and active in my own life. I give up, so that God can take over.