Monday, March 3, 2014
It's that time of year again. Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday and the next day, Ash Wednesday. So begins another season of Lent. Many years, I "gave up" stuff...ice cream (my mom's usual😉), wine, gossip, exercise, and other bad things. If you are unfamiliar with the terminology, Lent is the span of 40 days leading to Easter when many Christians sacrifice something that needs to go in their life, in order for Christ to occupy that space. This is my lay woman's usual understanding.
I began questioning this practice, as I became more Baptist, and less Lutheran, years ago. In my faith journey, I wanted to understand why we do many of the things I grew up believing were part of church. I began defining my Jesus faith. "Jesus faith" means, He made the ultimate sacrifice for me, and if He did it, I want to do it. If He didn't do it, I don't want to do it. I question why we give up something for 40 days that we feel is a detriment to us, to only pick it back up on Easter...the greatest holiday ever. (What?? You haven't considered Easter the greatest?! Jesus died and rose again, all the candy you can eat, and Spring. I rest my case.). If the bad thing, the sin, needs to be "given up", I suggest we don't need to resume the activity.
Did you know "Lent" is not a scriptural term? It is a churchy term. Go ahead, check your Bible's index. I will wait right here. I won't bore you and myself with the details of word origins, but you will not find it in your Bible. Ash Wednesday, not there either. Does that mean we shouldn't recognize these days? No, that's not what I'm implying. I believe this time of year is a great time to be intentional in our faith. I will attempt to de-distractionify myself. To intentionally quiet the noise in my life to grow in communion with Him.
I believe the enemy's handiest tool is distraction. We begin to pray, we become distracted by our to-do-list. We stop to speak to a hurting friend, and get distracted when another walks up, forget how crucial the hurt being shared. Our loved ones request our time, our attention, we get distracted, lose focus, forget their desire for more of us. We are working productively and "notifications" pop up on our smart devices, demanding our attention to tweets, emails, posts. We can be in Siberia, saving the world, and still receive texts from Redbox. We crowd our lives, our children's lives, with so many activities, we rarely have our families together in one place. Distractions have taken over much of our day. I have heard of more people diagnosed as adults with ADD in the past couple of years than I think is probable. I believe a more likely diagnosis for many of us is LIDD... Life-Induced Distraction Disease. I'm not pointing a finger at you, I'm guilty as well.
So, this is my Lenten plan. Will you join me? I will turn off the tv more. I will take more quiet walks into my yard and just listen to the birds. I will open my Bible, in the middle of the day, not just in the morning. I will try to be satisfied when I don't catch every meal you ate in my Facebook feed. I will interrupt my family and friends less, but practice listening. I will not rush my son's long stories. I will remember to pray through my showers again, instead of worrying while under the stream. I will put down my iPad and give my husband my full attention when he speaks. I will turn my thoughts during our church message from others, to myself, and what I need to work on. I will be more patient with negative people, and I will not hum in my head while they are talking, but try to understand where their bitterness comes from, and I will pray for them. I will do all these things to my best human ability, acknowledging that I will sometimes fail, and I will attain my Lenten goal ultimately. Commune more intimately with my Creator. Then, after we celebrate Easter, and I eat lots of candy, I will attempt to keep it up through the rest of the days. What about you?
Whatever you decide, be assured of this...
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen." Luke 24