Lent, and What I’m Setting Aside.
Lent, the Christian observation period before Easter, which is 40 days, give or take—and not including Sundays—is upon us. It commences with Ash Wednesday which, this year, falls on March 1st, and will end on Easter Sunday, April 16th
Lent is a period of time often thought of as repentance and sacrifice. While this is, in part, true, it is better described in this three-pronged approach: Praying, Fasting, Almsgiving. These three are to work together in the life of a Christian to deepen and enrich their relationship with God, and quite literally transform their life, as Christ was transformed for us
We are to be elevated into a higher and deeper standard of living with God on our sides. It’s not merely a “Christian New Year” that lasts for 40 days before we binge again. No, that’s not it at all. Here’s the gist of how those three goals of Lent play out in real life, then I’ll share with you specifically what I’m going to do.
Praying: Increase time with God. Through scripture, song, praying, and meditating. Dust off those old connections.
Fasting: Remove hindrances to your prayer life. What is standing in your way time wise? What are you substituting when you need comfort instead of turning to God? It’s not about sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice, because Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t for the sake of sacrifice. It was for something holier. Sure, give up the chocolate if you think you are using it in place of God—but don’t do it because you want to lose five pounds in the name of Jesus. Rise up.
Almsgiving: How can you help a neighbor?
So, this year, I’ve heard for weeks in my prayer time what I’m to do about the fasting. Weeks. It’s uncomfortable, but, this is Lent. And I want to be closer to God, always.
Here are the ways I hope to attain this during Lent:
Prayer: First thing in the morning. I often do this, but can get irregular and sloppy with it. God gets the first 15 minutes of my day. But, since this is a practice I typically undertake, I’m adding the last 15 minutes of my day to this, as well. No more just falling into bed without a second glance back at the Holy One. And, on that note, I want to pray around lunchtime. Not a “grace” type of thing, but a midday petition to remind myself of…well…everything.
1. Social media. Oy. I won’t be tossing my computer out the window; I run a business that relies on social media, and am campaigning for a political office in my town (election is April 11th). But, I waste LOADS of time scrollin’. So: No checking social media until the kids are off at school. God and my family get the first parts of my day. After that, it’ll be a half hour in the morning and a half hour at night, and never on my phone. And the half hour in the evening will end before 9pm. This is for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. That hour a day will be focused on my pages and groups. It will be intentional and life-giving as best I can.
2. NO CELL PHONE ON WEEKENDS. I’m just done, guys. It’s too much. On Friday night I’ll be turning off my phone and putting it on my bedside stand, where it’ll stay until Sunday morning. This will be so inconvenient. I’m going to have to plan better—and so will those around me. We’ll have to listen to one another and write things down and be where we say we’re going to be when we say we’re going to be there. If you don’t have my home phone, and want the number, FB message me. :D. Also, Charles will still have his phone, and I’m not afraid to use strangers cell phones—I’ve done it a million times before. I only have like 4 numbers memorized, but they’re good ones! Haha.
3. No social media on weekends. This is kind of the lovechild of 1 and 2 but needs to be stated. I have so much else to do, and I often avoid social media on Sundays during Lent, so I’m just adding a day.
Anyway, those are the three things I’m fasting from this Lenten season in an effort to increase my connectivity with God.
Almsgiving: How can I be of service to my family? How can I give to them in ways I haven’t been or haven’t been in a while? How can I pour of myself to them the way I do to you on social media, but in a slightly different way?
For those of you practicing Lent, I wish you an intense, deeply spiritual, life-giving time of reflection, growth, and redemption. God bless.
Photo: George Bosela
I’ll miss you, friend!