Last month I was invited to participate in a health screening clinic at work in order to get a discount on my health insurance. It was no big deal, except that it required participants to fast ahead of time. No problem! I thought as I made an appointment for 8:00AM. I’ll just grab something to eat afterwards.
Except “afterwards” never really came.
Due to some scheduling challenges, my appointment didn’t take place until 10:40AM, and by that time I was starving. My yogurt sat in the fridge uneaten and my coffee lingered in my thermos, gradually losing its heat. While filling out my forms in the waiting room, our administrative assistant asked me how I was doing. I looked at her square in the eyes with a little more tenacity than was appropriate and exclaimed, “I just want to eat something!”
I can’t believe people chose to fast as a spiritual practice. I thought to myself later. I don’t feel holy or closer to God; I just feel like I want to bite people’s heads off!
So, when my church announced that it was going to observe Lent this year, I began to get curious about this tradition. I learned quickly that participating in Fat Tuesday was a joy! I had four meals and two cups of coffee that day without any guilt.
But, when it came to thinking about what I would give up for the season, I felt a little stymied. “Can you choose to add something “good” into your routine, instead of giving something up?” I asked my colleagues at work. “Because,” (and I actually said this), “I can’t think of something to give up, I think I’ve been pretty good this year.”
I got a few silent stares in response and began to wonder if I should be giving up ignorance and pride for Lent. Lent, I was quickly discovering, was not about trying to get on “Santa’s Good List,” to avoid getting coal in your stocking…although, there are ashes involved…..
I went home and spent some honest time in prayer. I won’t be giving up food this season or social media, but rather an activity that I participate in and enjoy, but wonder if it is the best use of my time and energy. I want to abstain from it for the next 40 days and then consider if I should give it up for good. I’m curious to see how God meets me in its absence and if I will be more poignantly reminded that I need less of myself and more of Him.
Are you curious about Lent? My pastor, Steve Wiens, started a blog this week exploring this theme of Lent. Steve is a talented teacher and writer, and if you are looking for something substantial to read, even beyond this season in the church calendar, check out his blog at http://www.stevewiens.com/.
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