A number of people have been asking me what I plan on giving up for Lent. Some have jokingly remarked I should give up coffee (not fully understanding how my doing so would affect and/or jeopardize their life), while others have remarked I should give up LOST (see above for possible side affects to my giving this up). After much careful thought and consideration – in other words, what struck me as a great idea while waking Maggie the other morning – I have decided to sort of redefine my involvement in Lent this season.
Without getting into the deeper theological aspects of Lent, during this season those of us who call ourselves followers of Christ and choose to participate in reflecting on this season are asked/challenged to give something up for 40 days. At the heart of this sacrifice is the understanding that during the time we would allot to the activity we would give up, we are to spend it in prayer and meditation. In simpler terms: we give up something in the here and now to connect ourselves deeper with God in the Spirit. Sounds easy, no?
So, I started thinking, taking into account in my own life the things that take me away from connecting with God. Things that take up my time. Things that I idolize before God. I wanted to really think about the things that were important to me that it would seriously affect my time and energy if I gave them up.
And then, it hit me: what if I gave up myself?
Up until about a year and a half ago, I used to spend an inordinate amount of time reading, writing, and engaged in what years of ingraining through a youth group would lead me to call a “quiet time” with God. Then, as the saying goes, something fell (a little Cerebus reference for those of you who’ll get it). I lost focus. I stopped writing (for the most part). I stopped reading as much as I did. I stopped…being me in a number of ways. And I took this time I would have spent, which for me was the time used to align myself, to ground myself, and just…squandered it.
So, for Lent this year, I’m going to try to challenge me to give myself up, and go back to taking that time I allowed other things to become important in, and spend 40 days forcing myself to write during this time. To reflect during this time. To engage in an activity which, for me, connects me deeper to God.
Now, not everything I write may make its way to teh Internets. There may be some days when I write things that are too personal. There may be days when I literally send the time writing about what cheeses I prefer over others. But I know in my heart of hearts that during this time – even when I’m waxing philosophically on paper about the superiority of gouda – that in my heart, I’m going to be smiling a little. There will be an inner dialogue going on with God. And if my Spiritual moment comes in that we both share a giggle over what strange and crazy thing I just thought…but that’s okay, because it’s the way He made me, loose screws and all.
It may not be THE strictest definition of “denying yourself and following” Christ, but I am denying myself the distractions that kept me from following deeper.