If you haven’t already heard it, brace yourself.
“So, what are YOU giving up for Lent?”
I guess it’s time to give up Dr Pepper and Facebook, right?
Maybe, but hear me out.
There are plenty of well-meaning blog posts and folks sharing what they’re giving up for Lent – 40 bags for 40 days, a social media fast, television, fried foods, excessive spending – and the list goes on. Been there, done that.
As a wise priest recently shared, “Sometimes the things we ‘give up’ for Lent actually become a barrier between us and our relationship with God.”
In other words, it’s the easy way out. We give something up to make ourselves feel better, like we’re “doing Lent.” We fear giving up the big stuff because we fear vulnerability. It becomes our crutch. We fear giving up things that bring us closer to God because we might actually have to change.
We’ll be transformed.
Oooooouch. Reality bites, doesn’t it?
I think most of us publicly share our Lenten promises of prayer, fasting and almsgiving for accountability. We need our communities to keep us on task. When the wheels start to fall off as we hit the final weeks of Lent, those people can be our biggest cheerleaders as we amble our way toward Holy Week, the Triduum and Easter. And, I think that’s good.
But, truly, if our Lenten promises are transformative, we won’t have to shout to the world what we gave up because at the end of 40 days people will know. They’ll see the change. More importantly, we’ll be changed, and our Beloved will rejoice.
There is no award for “best Lenten sacrifice.” If there was, I’m pretty sure you’d find it on Pinterest.
When a girlfriend changes her diet and institutes an exercise program, we notice. When a co-worker has a job he loves, we notice. When a parent loves her child, we notice. When a family is grieving and a community reaches out, we notice. When people love Jesus and their actions and words make His teachings come to life, we notice.
Rather than telling yourself, “Oh, Lent is coming, time to give up sweets and Dr Pepper,” let’s do something different instead.
Dig deep. Start with what you take to the confessional every time. Or, if you haven’t been in a while (hey, no judgment) start with something that takes your time away from God. Start with the thing that’s your barrier – maybe it’s social media, your attitude, the crap in your house or the junk in your heart.
Let’s start this Lent with, “Here I am Lord, transform me,” and let the world be inspired to know God deeper through our example.
Forty days are here, y’all. Make ’em count.