Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lent - Giving something up & Gaining something New

Lent has traditionally been a time of giving something up.  In our old church, Lent was celebrated more by taking something new on.  This year, I have kind of done both. 

Many people choose to give up sweets during Lent, but I don't eat that many sweets so how many times will I really be tempted - one or two during the forty days. I decided to give up coffee.  Maybe I need to explain what that means to me.  I generally get up with coffee, have at least one during the day, and my favorite time of the whole day is a coffee before I go to bed.  Now mind you, until now, this "sacrifice" was not a public thing.    I really felt like I wanted to experience this myself, I didn't want to share this plan with anyone: so I put a little codicil in my Lenten fast - I would not get myself coffee. However, If someone else bought me a coffee, I would gratefully accept it.  (Note:  I could not ask someone else to get it for me.  It had to be a random act of kindness of which I had no control.) This may seem like just wishful thinking, but I have at least two angels in my life that suprise me with coffee, so this was a real consideration. I will also note for those of you that are not familiar with Lent, that I became very thankful for Sundays which are not included in the Lenten 40 days.  I didn't over indulge but I surely did partake. 

Coffee was a really good thing to give up because it literally made me think of Lent every single day.  I could feel the temptation of Christ.  I could feel loss and sadness.  I know that sounds a bit extreme and I certainly don't mean to the extreme, but I would liken it to running sandpaper over you arm repetitively making you think about how it might feel to have a deep cut.  The feeling is not the same, but it is a little hurt that makes you ever mindful of a deeper, darker, more painful possibility.

At the same time, we took on attending our church's Lenten series of dinners with a conversation about the movies Economy of Love.  And we made our once a month Breakfast with the Bible a weekly experience.  These times of togetherness, which originally felt like just another responsibility have actually translated into the oasis of my week.  It is like swimming miles, but knowing when I touch that buoy that I will be relieved and have finished the race.

These two Lenten experiences have broadened my faith and deepened my Christian love.  I'm hoping the lessons will far exceed the 40 days of action.

What did you give up or add on during this Lenten season?  How has it changed your views or experience?

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