During my childhood, I gave up gum for Lent every year. In the way that I understood it, we were supposed to let go of something important to us during that season of remembering Christ’s work on the cross. Gum was important to me. I loved the taste, the comforting rhythm of the chomping, and I thought that chewing gum made me look cool. But, in all honestly, gum wasn’t really that special to me. It was fairly easy to give up for Lent, which was why I chose it. Call me a Lenten Slacker. Chocolate, though. That would have been a real sacrifice!
I have attended a non-liturgical church for most of my married life, and for years we didn’t really acknowledge the Lenten season much, other than to notice the “Fish Fry Fridays” sign on the lawn of the nearby Catholic Church. But over the years, I began to miss entering into the rhythms of the church season. I’ve longed to inhabit the story of Christ through celebrating the liturgical year.
We’ve brought these traditions back to our family. We’ve become a couple who googles local church services on Ash Wednesday. We encourage our children to consider these questions during the Lenten season: What takes your attention away from God? Will you considering detaching from something in order to attach more fully to Christ? I teach my children that the point is not just to “give something up” during Lent. Our daily goal should be to become more formed into Christ’s image. What is preventing that from happening more fully in their souls? What can they do about that during Lent?
I’m going to do a bit of unplugging for Lent. I generally wake up in the morning anxious to taste my first cup of coffee and turn on my laptop. My mind wakes up as I read a few blogs, check my email and Facebook, and peruse Pinterest. None of those things are bad, but I can get caught up in technology to an unhealthy degree. A better choice for me would be to ease into my day from a place of peace, not from a place of technology. I am detaching from my need to plug-in first thing in the mornings. Before I do anything else, other than pour that cup of coffee, I will put on my Gregorian chant music, pick up my Bible and prayer books, and enjoy some good Solitude time with God as the sun rises. I realize that my attachment to technology, first thing in the morning, has become an intrusion into beginning my day well with God.
Is there something you might consider detaching from for Lent, to give room for God to work more fully in your soul? Do you need to detach from a certain food, an unhealthy relationship, a hurried schedule, or gossip? Or perhaps there’s a life-giving spiritual practice to begin incorporating into your day as a new Lenten discipline. Don’t be distressed if you find yourself failing at it. It’s not about being perfect! It’s about moving toward God. His mercies are new every morning!