We have made it halfway to Easter! After 20 days in my first Lenten experience, there have been many ups and down and there is a lot to reflect on. Here are some of my general thoughts on this experience. Some of these are going to be repeats of what I’ve already said, but remembering the past is the best way to prepare for the future.
– Lent is HARD. I’m lucky that I haven’t picked something actually difficult, like fasting or staying off social media entirely (I tried halfheartedly and that was a bust). Writing every single day has been difficult, especially with everything going on, but my wife has been pushing me to keep at it. Even this post would have been forgotten had she not reminded me. She has truly been a rock for me through this whole journey.
I’ve also wanted coffee many times these past few mornings but I am thankful for my wife and close friends who have helped keep me honest. And a shout out to Doc and Lawson for the Earl Grey tea this morning. It was delicious and it was a great encouragement for me to keep at it.
– Lent opens your eyes. I’ve learned a lot about myself through this time and I’ve gotten the chance to get to know others. Getting rid of the clutter in our lives helps us to see the things that are important. I just cleaned up my office this morning and put together a new desk that I bought; let me tell you, I’ve never felt more comfortable in that room. Lent gives us the chance to throw out some of the bad stuff and replace it with new things that will make life better for us moving forward.
– Lent is communal. Each of us who participates in this season does so with our own specific goals – our thing that we give up or take on. But part of what has made this such a great experience is the stories I’ve heard and gotten to share with others. Although in different ways, we all partake in this journey together and we can share burdens with one another. My sister is off social media so I have kept her informed of things she would need to know. My friend Jon is reading a large book for Lent (NT Wright’s the Resurrection of the Son of God) and he has been sending me quotes from it periodically. I also have been sending him quotes from the books I have set aside time to read, such as James Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power. I’ve read of numerous stories on Twitter about others’ Lenten experience and that has helped me feel connected to strangers I’ve never met. It really is a great time to deepen the bonds of the church.
– Lent is for us. It is not just an empty ritual that “the Catholics” do to earn favor with God. It is also not something that God demands of us. We don’t need to partake in this season. However, the way it is designed is special and helpful for spiritual growth. It allows us to see our faults and repent of our mistakes. It reminds us of grace in that we know that we cannot do this on our own. It gives us the chance to walk the same path as our Savior and maybe, just maybe, grow in deeper admiration of who he is and what he does. Lent is designed to help us live our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. It gives life perspective and it grants us clarity.
I’m only halfway through this experience, but this has been one of the best choices I’ve ever made. Bring on the second half!