Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent - A Time For Reflection




In all of my 37 years of life, I have never observed Lent. Or at least I have never faithfully observed the season of Lent. There have been a few times when I decided to give Lent a try, but I never stuck to it. I never purposefully set aside the 40 days preceding Easter as a time for reflecting upon Christ's life, sacrifice, suffering, death, burial and resurrection. That confession may shock and sadden some of you. It saddens me.

My reasons for avoiding Lent ranged from not being Catholic to being highly cognizant of legalism. I also associated Lent with giving something up as a way of acknowledging all that Christ gave up for me. While that is not necessarily untrue, that line of reasoning made it difficult for me to submit to a 40-day sacrifice of my own.

Here's why.

I thought that giving up something as insignificant as...let's say...dark chocolate to remember and honor Christ's willingness to submit to a torturous death cheapened Good Friday. Anything I considered giving up was downright puny in comparison to what Jesus gave away for me. So, being the good perfectionist that I was...I nixed the idea of observing Lent every time I heard someone reference abstaining from something beloved to them.

Several days ago, I began to think some more about Lent and, once again, thought about "trying it." And then, once again, could not think of something valid to give up. The more I pondered, the clearer the truth resonated. As a follower of Christ, I am called to sacrifice. But I am called to give up something far more valuable than caffeine, sugar or Facebook.

In Matthew 16: 24-26 Jesus said "If anyone wants to follow me, he must say no to himself. He must pick up his cross and follow me. He who wants to save his own life will lose it. But he who loses his life for me will find it."

I am commanded to give up myself. And not just for 40 days.

I am asked to give away

my time

my energy

my selfish wants

my love


You may now be thinking that I have decided (once again) to not observe Lent, but I actually came to an  different conclusion. Although I will not be giving up an item, I will be giving up (or trying to give up) parts of myself that prevent me from clinging to Christ. I plan to observe Lent as a season for reflecting specifically on Christ's life, death and resurrection and on ways that I can better love Him and others.  For the next 40 days, I am committing  to writing a blog post here that focuses on the season (I have found that I spend more time in scripture when I blog than when I do not). The posts may not be profound or well written...but they will be intended as a way to keep me accountable as I strive to spend more time learning how to give up me.

(Please know that by writing this post, I am not in anyway chastising you if you have chosen to give up something for Lent. I completely respect how that doing so is a way of worship for many...and I think that is beautiful. I encourage everyone to draw close to God and take time to reflect upon the sacrifices made by His only son.)





16 comments:

Lucy said...

I tend to use to Lent to re-focus myself on Christ, to use my time more wisely, being aware of the precious moments I fritter away. Like you, I'm a latecomer to observing Lent, but there is a richness there I had previously missed: a backdrop for new discipline and a deeper discipleship.

Angela Nazworth said...

Ohh Lucy...I love how you described Lent as a "backdrop for a new discipline and a deeper discipleship." I so agree.

Rea said...

Your thoughts on Lent echo mine so much. Everything I thought of giving up seemed too trivial, too 'me' focused.

And so I came to the same conclusion, this year I am giving up myself. That may not always look the same. Today it looks like getting up at 5 because God poked me and said "Spend more time with me this morning" (I'm just waiting for my coffee to brew...). I know that it is going to look a lot like surrendering my eating habits to God, not getting that candy bar because the inner me is whining 'but I WANT it!'

I'm looking forward to the journey.

Angela Nazworth said...

Rea...Great thoughts about how everyday may look different but you'll still be giving yourself. Love that! Thank you so much for commenting.

Wendi@EveryDayMiracles said...

Angela, I really appreciate this post! My thoughts on lent are very similar to yours - and yes, I am another one who rarely even batted an eye at lent. I also balked at the idea of those who "indulge" up until lent, and then give up something for a short time. Seemed so meaningless. Your post has alot of meaning for Christ followers though, and I am challenged. I am not sure where the challenge will take me, but will definitely be praying about it today!

asgoodadayasany said...

I pray you have a fresh encounter with grace as you proceed through the days. I have found the Lenten season to be profoundly powerful in its lessons - quiet though they come. - Marilyn

Holley Gerth said...

So lovely to see your words here again--and what a beautiful reason for a new season of writing!

Jennifer @ Studio JRU said...

I just read today in my Lenten meditation book... "Today is the first day of Lent. For the next 40 days, I can decide whether I want to be a spectator or a disciple of the Lord by truly immersing my life in Jesus." I couldn't have explained better what Lent means to me. I look forward to your posts this Lent Angela. ♥

Ashley said...

Thank you for your inspiration this morning. I'm doing a different kind of lent as well... instead of giving up... I'm giving a little more of myself to Jesus each day.

What confirmation it was to read your thoughts this morning.

Thank you~

Jessica said...

I look forward to reading along!

gitz said...

I love this. Being Catholic, I have always observed Lent, but I was taught about it in much the same way you are going about it. It's not just about giving something up... it's about making a sacrifice that, when you are missing something, draws you to think about Christ's sacrifice. It draws you to think of Him, speak with Him, grow closer to Him.

You blogging draws you closer to His Word, and that's a beautiful thing as we wait in these forty days...

Deidra said...

So good to see you here in this space. I "get" this. I wasn't raised in a faith tradition that observes Lent, and I still find it difficult to understand. For all of the reasons you've mentioned. I'm looking forward to peeking in on your journey through the next 40 days.

Bonnie Gray said...

Angela, I love how you are reflecting on Christ by sharing His words with us. It reminds me of Jesus, how He brought His whole self - his emotions, his body, and his whole experience for all to observe and see. What a beautiful way to express love for how Christ walked those final moments for us so exposed and so beautifully.

Ronel Sidney said...

In the past I have tried to give up "something" and I usually fail. When I was walking this morning I decided instead of giving up something I would instead do a family devotional every night in order to get closer with my family & God!!

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

Not being raised in a Lent-observing denomination, I struggle with this, too. Of course, it doesn't help that, like you, I'm a rotten (great?) perfectionist! I'm looking forward to reading your posts as you take time to reflect this season.

Lora said...

this year i'm giving up stress. and yes, i'm completely serious. that's what was whispered into my ear when i asked for guidance on Lent this year. :-)

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