From Tracie: So This Is Lent

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

So This Is Lent

Up until a few years ago the only thing I knew about Lent was that one time in seventh grade my friend Danielle told me she gave up chocolate for a month because of Lent, but she wasn't too upset about it because she didn't like chocolate anyway. She then proceeded to polish off a bag of Skittles. That seemed a little off to me, but being a non-Lent-observing Baptist raised in a strict fundamentalist sphere that hated any hint of liturgy or adherence to the church calendar other than observing Christmas and Easter, I didn't think it was my place to question her Lenten choices.

For the past few years I have thought about doing something for Lent, but it always sneaks up on me.

That is the convenient excuse. True, but convenient.

A less convenient truth: I'm not very good at giving up things.

This year I was going to be prepared. I read a lot of blog posts last week as people started sharing their Lent commitments. I figured that would be a great way to get ideas. There are people forgoing alcohol or certain foods, getting rid of 40 bags of stuff, taking up service instead of giving up things, not buying new books (or not reading books), doing special devotions, having a gentle lent, fasting from social media, and everything in between.

Lent has officially started, and I'm overwhelmed.

I guess I thought there would be a special revelation, where God's voice would call out to me, "Tracie, you should do ______ for Lent."

But that hasn't happened.

I haven't seen any bushes burning without being consumed lately, either.

(That sounds a little bitter.
I don't mean it that way, honestly, but I do feel discouraged.)

Maybe instead of getting out the matches to help those bushes along, I should get out my Bible and start reading.

It could be that I'm putting too much thought into this Lent thing, making it harder than it needs to be.

I'm not saying that planning something special isn't useful, or there isn't a worthy idea behind giving something up for the next forty days, or spiritual discipline isn't important, or even that it wouldn't be nice to use this as a time to make spring cleaning a reality. Those are all good things. But maybe for me, a first-time Lent-er, just focusing on the basics is a good idea.

Get the prayer and Bible study schedule that I do not always follow as closely as my heart would like back on track.

Read about Lent; digging deeper than a few blog posts. Use this forty days to prepare for next year; to really understand Lent before I try to take it on in some spectacular way.

Stop looking at all the people around me, and what they are doing, and start spending more time looking at Jesus. Because, at its heart, that is what Lent is really about - Jesus.

That is how I'm going to tackle Lent this year. I'll let you know how it goes.

Are you observing Lent this year?

Pour Your Heart Out

29 comments:

  1. I love that you're sitting back, figuring out Lent. I think that awareness is so important! I'm a Lent novice, too and try to be intentional without making it The Most Important Thing.

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    1. Thank you. I love what you said about being intentional without making it The Most Important Thing. That balance is exactly what I'm looking for here.

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  2. I have a hard time giving up things too. I thought about soda, but I've cut back on it quite a bit and honestly I have been good about that. I did have one last week but it was from the health food store. I don't want to be beating myself up if I feel I need to have one. So I'm still thinking about this. But I think that is why people give up things that are easier to give up. I could give up ice cream, but I couldn't tell you the last time I had it, so that doesn't seem right. I like the way you're looking at it.

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    1. I think getting to the point where you are beating yourself up for needing to have that indulgence moment is the wrong direction, so I totally get where you are coming from on the soda.

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  3. Yes, as Annierim wrote, just having the AWARENESS is SUCH a good beginning. Be so very gentle with yourself. Start very small. You're on the right track!

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    1. Thank you. It means a lot to read your words.

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  4. I think that is an amazing choice. Its not 100% it if youre not giving it your whole heart and devotion right...and to do that you need to understand it! GOOD LUCK

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    1. Thank you!! I'm still working on it!

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  5. I have never observed Lent, although I've always liked the idea of giving up something for a month(+). I think your choice is wise if you're struggling and frustrated. Sometimes it is the hardest choice of all.

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    1. Thank you. It is tough work, being intentional, and looking deep within, but it is also worth it. I hope!

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  6. I love the approach you're taking! Do what feels right FOR YOU and maybe next year you'll feel more comfortable and have a clearer picture. (But if you wanted to join me on a few days of purging, I wouldn't say no either *wink wink*)

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    1. I have to agree with the WT here! Lent isn't necessarily about giving something up. You do what's best for you. If that's getting back to the basics or learning about Lent or doing something for others, that's what you do. I gave up cofee for Lent because I rely too much upon coffee to keep me awake and alert throughout the day. This is a good time for me to re-adjust and work on getting more sleep. Again, it's all about what's best for you.

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    2. Thanks, Tia! I will definitely have a few bags to purge. For living in such a small space, we sure do seem to be able to accumulate things that we don't need.

      Teala - that is a great idea. I am happy you are going to be working on getting more sleep. You have such a heavy workload, and I know being well-rested will make a difference.

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  7. I've never observed Lent either - thought about it though ;-) This is the first year I'm formally giving up something; two things actually (cause that's the way I am :-) Sleeping In & Postponing Things. Two things I enable myself with & which I must get past!

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    1. Those are two things that have been sneaking their way back into my life lately. Well, if I'm being completely honest, the postponing things one never really left my life. It will be a HUGE thing to move past both of them. What a great life change.

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  8. I have never been particularly religious, but I have always loved the idea of Lent. Of taking 40 days to give up something and to think of all the people who regularly go 40 days without whatever privilege you're denying yourself. That said I've never been particularly successful at, and this year I wasn't planning on doing anything. But it's certainly not too late yet to come up with something!

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    1. Not too late at all! And I think that giving something up, or being more mindful, can be done any time of the year. It might just be a little bit easier to do it when other people are doing it, too.

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  9. I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS TRACIE!!!!! You have picked the PERFECT Lent choice... and I just think this entire post is so beautifully done. I love the process by which you came to this conclusion... SO many people can relate!!

    My lent Devotional is coming Sunday- I think you might like to supplement yours with it!! :)

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    1. Thank you SO MUCH, Chris!! You are so very encouraging, and I'm grateful for you. I'm very excited to read your lent devotional! Yay.

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  10. I really love your take on this - I am from a religious background of non-Lent observation too, but several of my friends have always observed so I'm familiar with the mechanics of it. I've never decided to do it myself, but I really like your approach, because I think you are so right. It's about Jesus.

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    1. Thank you. I figure as long as we keep Jesus as the focus of whatever we do, we won't go wrong.

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  11. I don't observe Lent because I'm Jewish, by background anyway, but it is interesting to see. Some people give up Facebook and then get very quiet for awhile! Today I saw a blogger give up..blogging! That would be worse for me than chocolate or coffee or Facebook.

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    1. I really couldn't give up blogging (or social media) because as well as being something I love to do, it is also my job. But I did see a couple of my friends give up Facebook.

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  12. I love this post, and your thoughts about Lent are very similar to mine. I am Baptist, but my husband is Catholic, so I have practiced the fasting from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent for the past several years. Most of my friends are Catholic, too, so I also do this when I go out with them. But it's more of a peer pressure thing than anything. I have been searching for a way to celebrate that is more of a way to strengthen my relationship with God than just following the crowd. So I went ahead and ate meat today, and am instead going to start reading a devotional every night and trying to pray more. Like you, I am hoping something bigger will grow from that. I hope we both find that this Lenten season. :)

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    1. I love that you are making it your own this year, and really doing so ething from the heart instead of from peer pressure. I hope, and pray, that we will both see something bigger grow this season.

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  13. "Stop looking at all the people around me, and what they are doing, and start spending more time looking at Jesus. Because, at its heart, that is what Lent is really about - Jesus."

    YES!! This!

    I thought about giving up lots of stuff, mainly FB, but I can't do that b/c i have commitments to work on FB at some point in the 40 days, so that doesn't really work. Then, I did the same thing you did. Got overwhelemed with the idea of giving something up. I'm not falling into that trap. Before I know it, I'll be depressed and feeling guilty I didn't give something up. That is not the purpose! Keep your eyes on Jesus, sister! THat's all that matters. This day, 40 days from now, and for all eternity. I just don't think Jesus is making a list and checking it twice.

    I'm planning on digging deeper in the Word. Instead of spending the time I would normally be using for playing on FB, blogging, or whatever, I'm going to make a effort to seek first his kingdom!

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  14. Hey there! Stopping by from EE's linkup. Our stories are so similar. I'm glad to have found you.

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  15. I love the way in which different practices are being picked up outside their home churches. So many people now seem interested in Lent and as a cradle Catholic I think that's great. For me, my faith was reinvigorated by reading about this strange thing called 'quiet time' that so many people do. It blew me away that people would spend so long each day in Bible study and prayer and I've tried to bring that into my life. We have so much to share with each other and it's so good that those links are now being made when in the past we were perhaps more divided. Thank you for sharing your approach and your story and may your Lent be a time of blessing and grace.

    Juliet

    http://stilllearning1.wordpress.com/

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  16. Growing up, we never observed Lent. Some of my friends who were Catholic did, but it wasn't something we did in my church. So, it feels a little weird to me to try it now. I like the idea behind it, though.

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