Events: Lent 2020

I admire people who fast completely for lent, or at least give up a staple of their diet (a co-worker said he’s giving up bread except for communion – that sounds like a challenge!). I’m going to ask you be patient as I work through this particular question.

I don’t like lent. I appreciate the concept, but I get a little cross-eyed when people say “I’m giving up soda for lent!” or “I’m not drinking alcohol!” or “I’m going to the gym!” And it’s not because these are bad things in themselves. But I have to bite my tongue hard and resist spraining my eyeballs on the roll. And some of this is because I don’t know why people are giving them up, they can be valid.

But these aren’t spiritual in and of themselves. They can be. Any one of these might be. If drinking soda or alcohol is preventing you from being spiritual (the former is the one that I really struggle with understanding but maybe?). Sleep, eating and drinking healthy, working out – all of these are great things to accomplish. Not because of Lent. Lent is supposed to be a reminder of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting, praying, and being tempted.

I have had many years went I don’t specifically observe lent. I don’t give anything up. I’ve had a few years where I add (prayer or giving or something). But I refuse to give up something (or add something) just because. I think giving up something, even something I enjoy (soda, chocolate, going to the movies) cheapens this very important spiritual journey.

This year I’m adding a “thankfulness jar” where I’m going to put a note in a jar every day of something I’m thankful for. There is a tiny voice in my head that is constantly trying to put me down and stress me out, and it’s keeping me from being fully engaged with… well life and my community and God.

The only other time I seriously tackled Lent was in high school. My sophomore year of high school I gave up pants. Even at the time I thought it was “stupid” – until I got in to lent and really experienced it. It’s one of a very few years I really felt I needed to give something up, and it turned out that was really a powerful year. I was less limited than I was before that experience.

So does giving up soda equal fasting? Does it break some kind of chain in your life that is preventing you from fully participating? Does it bring you closer to God? Maybe it does. And so although I feel a lot of people do it as a good opportunity to “cold turkey” something they would anyway – I will never say it to their face because really their lent is between them and God. And if alcohol or soda or bread or not-going-to-the-gym is between them and God… well I have planks in my own eye I should deal with.

Writer, nerd, and perpetual student. I am obsessed with books - both the reading and the making of them. If I won the lottery I would try to have the best private(ish) library in the world. It wouldn't be totally private because the whole purpose of having books is helping other people find a book they will love. I have 2 cats, Genkii (energy) and Kawaii (cutie). I will mention them regularly because they are a daily delight in my life. Granted, sometimes when I'm playing video games they are not so much "delight" as they are "distraction"... but I love them regardless.

2 thoughts on “Events: Lent 2020

  1. I actually love Lent. I agree with you about the people who give up frivolous things that don’t seem to make much difference. One time I gave up all lying, including white lies. I felt like I was living with too much deception, lying to save my own pride, and I didn’t like the person I was becoming. That was a hard season! I really learned a lot about myself and I continued the practice after Lent was over.

    Other times when I’ve given up something frivolous, but something that I do engage with on a daily basis (like dessert or soda), remembering not to partake reminds me of my connection and commitment to God. Anytime I had a craving, I would pray about it. It made those little Easter Sundays particularly enjoyable when I could finally have my sugar fix!

    One year I followed a NGUMC challenge that had you take pictures to match with a spiritual word (grace, forgiveness, connection, love, etc) and then post it to your social media. That was a challenge on two fronts, openly sharing my faith in a place where I had been pretty neutral, and constantly looking for whatever word it was that day.

    It doesn’t work every year, but I think it’s worth it to give it a chance. I encourage my kids to join with me as well, which has sparked some good conversations.

    Anywho, that’s my 2 cents. 🙂

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    • You get dessert every day?? I’m jealous!

      And what you said is a good way to approach those smaller denials. As long as it is a spiritual journey. The NGUMC challenge sounds really interesting! Maybe something to do in a another year.

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