(Every good religious musing should begin with a confession, right??)
Confession: I have never "given up" anything for Lent.
The church in which I grew up was not heavily liturgical, resulting in Lent not having a huge role in my life. Aside from the occasional Ash Wednesday or Maundy Thursday service, Lent never really affected me personally. In fact, the entire idea of sacrificing something during Lent was foreign to me until I noticed one of my dear friends not eating her customary bag of Skittles at lunch one day.
As I have grown (dare I say) more mature, the notion of observing Lent has begun to appeal to me. While I wish I could say that I reflect constantly on the sacrifice of Jesus, that is not the case. Thus, this year, I wanted to use Lent as a time to actively increase my spiritual awareness.
decided to do, I wanted to do it for the right reasons. It is so simple
for the discipline of sacrifice to lose its perspective. We can easily
forget why we are implementing a new discipline, and it becomes a rule - something we have
to do. We crush the spirit of sacrifice when it becomes a legalistic
ritual. I don't want to spend the next 40+ days resenting God because I
can't do something. Additionally, it can be easy to use a Lenten sacrifice with ulterior motives (giving up unhealthy foods to lose weight, etc). Regardless of what I ended up doing, I wanted it to be ultimately for the glory of God, not for any selfish reasons.
So I started brainstorming. How can I celebrate Lent? Well, the typical things that people decide to sacrifice normally have to do with consumption of foods: candy, soft drinks, alcohol, junk food or fast food. However, we eat clean food for the most part, and abstaining from consuming something that I have maybe once or twice a month at most could hardly be considered a sacrifice. Someday (despite already practically following it save for meat, honey, yeast and coffee), I would love to do the Daniel Fast but my doctor would probably flip if I told him I wasn't eating meat, so that is out.
Another increasingly popular Lenten sacrifice is something to do with consumption of media. We rarely watch television, so giving up our once-a-week White Collar or NCIS wouldn't really suffice. A viable option would be to give up this blog for Lent. While I know that I could do that, the blog world is such a form of encouragement to me, and gives me a sense of fellowship with other medical wives (however many states apart we live). This blog is also such a great way to stay connected with friends and family whom I rarely see. It is hard to find positivity in sacrificing blogging. Yes, I suppose that I could free up an hour or two each week, but the joy I receive from coming here is so good for my outlook.
Choosing something to sacrifice turned out to be much more difficult than I imagined, primarily because there is nothing BIG enough that I can sacrifice. Anything that I choose will absolutely pale in comparison to what He gave. As a dear friend put it - how can my giving up coffee possibly be compared to the sacrifice of Jesus?
Obviously, whatever I sacrifice needs to bear good fruit, not foster resentment. I also don't want the
focus to become solely on my discipline; the discipline is supposed to
be a way to move me spiritually closer to God. That's why I have decided to sacrifice part of each day of Lent to specifically and pointedly pray for different people. The majority of these people will be those I pray for on a regular basis already, but it is my goal to lift them up in prayer with a specific focus on them individually throughout the day, not just jumbled in with all of the other prayers. I've got my list in Excel (alphabetically, of course - AJC & family, you're up first!) - it was shockingly easy to come up with 46 individuals, couples and families. So to my friends, family, fellow medical wives, and even a few people with whom I no longer have contact - I'll be praying specifically for you and your life during this season of Lent.
As a side - I am also considering doing some sort of a Lent reading plan - does anyone have one they would recommend? Something perhaps a little lighter, as the Hubby and I currently have a pretty strenuous daily reading plan (It's supposed to last a full year, but at the pace we're going, we could be done by the end of October...but let's be realistic - once the Hubby starts doing clinicals, and my work schedule goes absolutely crazy in a few months, we'll be lucky to finish by the end of the year). I'm open to your suggestions!
Do you observe Lent? If so, how do you celebrate?