As a pre-teen/teenager, I remember my mom and I challenging each other to “give something up” for Lent. I remember, more than once, giving up fried food, chocolate or even Diet Coke. (My dad always said he wanted to give up something like: broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach–things he didn’t eat anyway)….
So, for most of my “adult” life I’ve participating in Lent, but it’s always just been more of a challenge, not necessarily for “religious” reasons.
As far as I know, the traditional purpose of Lent was a time of reflection, preparation, prayer, and repentance as you prepare for Easter. It culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Many people, who have actively participated in Lent, will spent 40 days fasting. (It’s similar to when Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days). Fasting is a way of eliminating distractions. The idea of “wanting” something (that we put above our relationship with God) puts a barrier in the way of our Christian walk. Whatever we want more than we want him is a rival, a false god in our heart. Food, drink, cigarettes, television, shopping, all that clutters and burdens our lives, we let go of, in order to make room for God.
I cannot fast from food (I get very tremendous headaches if I don’t eat regularly), so I am going to fast from something else.
For the next 40 days, from Ash Wednesday to Easter, I will not be going out to eat. If you would like invite me (or Paul/me) to go out to eat, I’m happy to oblige (and go with you) but I will not be eating.
Over the years, especially since I’ve been married, I have really enjoyed going out to eat. Paul and I go out to eat a lot–sometimes for an actual “date” but more times than not, it is simply because I do not want to cook and it’s “quicker” that way. Eating out (in and of itself) is not a bad thing, but I use it as an excuse to not provide a well-balanced meal for my family and just because I enjoy it.
So….because I enjoy it, it’s what I’m giving up. It will be difficult because Paul is not giving it up….so, we’ll see how it goes….
Overall, lent allows us to be more focused on God. It is a representation of where our hearts should be focused in the weeks leading to Easter… whether you add something on, or remove something from your life – it’s not meant as a works, more so an act of devotion to God, allowing Him to order your heart, etc..
A “spring cleaning” of sorts.
If you are going to participate in Lent, I pray God’s blessings on you as you prepare, reflect, pray, and repent during this time leading up to Easter.