I’ve never observed Lent. I’ve got nothing against it (I didn’t give up Lent for Lent or anything), it was just never part of my church or family heritage.
Growing up, I watched as my Catholic and Reformed friends shunned every day indulgences like soda, sugar, television (or if they were feeling a little snarky, homework, vegetables, and obeying their parents) during these 40 days leading up to Easter. But not me. I usually just collected all the uneaten candy bars at the school lunch table. In my world, Lent was a windfall. Six weeks of Fat Tuesdays.
Even though Lent isn’t part of my spiritual tradition, Ash Wednesday has caused me to reflect on a few things I’m trying to lay down. To give up. To silence. Permanently. Luxuries of sorts. Things like:
What, you don’t think of fear as a luxury item? I beg to differ. Fear keeps you safe. Hidden. Protected. Face it, it’s a whole lot simpler to stay scared than to engage the discomfort, headaches, and conflict that courage brings into your life.
I indulge my insecurities in how I’d prefer you to think of me. A hologram of sorts. If I’m not careful, I can even do it here on this blog. Living into projections is like eating deep-fried butter at the Indiana State Fair. It tastes wonderful in the moment, but there’s a high likelihood of needing a doctor in the near future.
This nasty little booger turns my personal opinions and preferences into spiritual essentials. It overlooks my imperfection and elevates my effort, implying the sacrifice of Christ to be completely unnecessary. We all love a little self-righteousness, until we’re around someone staring own their elitist nose in our direction.
The evil cousin of self-righteousness may make me appear open, teachable, and kind, while really disguising insecurities that can kill. Feigning weakness isn’t humility. Have an honest assessment of yourself and confidently embrace who God created you to be–the sweet spot of tension between utter dependence and audacious bravery.
Are you giving up anything for Lent?