One year I gave up fast food for Lent. Two days in, I was driving from Seattle back home to Portland when I stopped at Taco Bell (I used to make really bad decisions). I stood in line at Taco Bell, kind of back and forth about if I should get something or not and I finally cracked and left. I felt really guilty about it and was sitting in quiet reflection when the Holy Spirit convicted me to the core of my being.
“What is the point of giving up fast food if you’re still arrogant and hard of heart? Do you think I am glorified by you abstaining from fast food but continuing to gossip and be cynical about everyone in your life?”
I realized that Lent isn’t just about what we give up. Madeleine L’Engle says that if something is worth giving up for 40 days, it’s worth giving up once for all.
The danger with giving something up is that we’ve created a void in our lives that might be quickly filled with another unhealthy habit. It’s not enough to remove something – we must REPLACE it. Trade the bad for the good and trade the good for the best.
A few weeks ago my best friend Emily texted me about Lent, and we ended up sharing our Lent plans. The heart of it is about seeing God in our lives – and I’d say more than seeing, FINDING. Finding God in our lives. Sometimes I think he’s a little more discreet about his presence than we realize, and I think we need to lean in a little bit closer, to be detectives in search of evidence of something we already know – God is here. I want to spend my life collecting little evidence bags of proof that God’s been invading my life and leaving his fingerprints, footprints, crumbs and fibers all over everything.
That’s what Lent is about for me this year. and this is what I’m doing:
- I took the Facebook & Facebook messenger app off my phone.
Let’s be real – I waste a lot of time scrolling through my newsfeed and getting angry at people I like. I click that stupid little F not just out of boredom but sheer habit. No more.
- I am going to catch up & stay caught up on my Bible in 2015 reading plan.
I’ve fallen behind. Very behind. and instead of throwing myself a pity party or feeling like a failure, I’m just going to bust my butt and get caught up.
- Being more intentional about taking pictures of how I see God at work in my life.
I really like pictures. and I recently invested in a new camera, and I haven’t used it as much as a person who paid nearly $1,000 for a new camera should use it when they first get it. I feel stifled and uncreative and in a rut. and I don’t think that’s how God created me to engage with the world. So I’m going to be like the people on CSI who take pictures of everything as evidence. I’m finding God, and I’ll have pictures to show for it.
- Being quiet.
Monday was so rough for me. I woke up and sent someone a picture of my planner for the next 3 weeks and was overwhelmed with the busyness of it all. I hate being busy and without moments to breathe and re-center. So even in the midst of chaos, I’m going to be quiet. I’m going to take time to read (I haven’t read in a long time) and write (especially letters to my friends) and even just sit looking outside while I drink my coffee. I need to have moments of quiet.
The things I’m “giving up” aren’t THINGS so much as feelings, time-wasters, worries, fears. Stuff that slowly destroys my soul, peace and rest because I let it take over my entire life. and it’s not about 40 days, it’s about life. Lent is just a great time to reset because it’s easy to find accountability and it’s leading up to the greatest victory this world has ever known, so it’s like a built in celebration at the end.