This year, I think for the first time ever, I felt led to participate in the season of Lent. I can't really explain why. I don't even fully understand what Lent is and means. I grew up in an independent Baptist church and never even heard the word until about 11th grade when my Catholic friends started talking about giving up soft drinks or sugar or dessert.
Now I can make the connection a little better. Lent challenges us to fast. And we fast from something we really enjoy. And when we are tempted by whatever we are fasting from, we turn to Jesus and pray for self control and for Him to satisfy the desires and longings of our heart, in hopes that as he satisfies the longing for a cupcake, he will turn and take over the sinful desires as well.
I never understood why people gave up a food for Lent. I get that historically it connects to the whole Fat Tuesday binge, and more importantly and appropriately, Jesus fasting for 40 days.
But I don't feel any sin when I eat. I don't think I lack self-control in this area. Plus, I can't exactly fast well while pregnant...
So, I tried to look at what is a temptation in my life and what is a sin that I know is a problem. Part of my post about joy was that I have this ideal of what I should have. How I should look, what my baby should wear and I want the things that I see in magazines, on television, in all my tumblr reblogs. It was causing my discontentment with everything that I've been so so blessed with.
I cannot emphasize that enough.
Jesus is blessing our socks off and I don't appreciate it. I overlook it and stare beyond and all the other things that might make it just that much better.
See, there is a problem.
So I've fasted from shopping for 40 days. I've fasted opening emails from stores that would tempt me with shiny models, or perfectly made bedrooms. I've fasted from walking around Target, just to see what they have. And it's been stinking hard. I don't think I had a shopping problem to begin with, I don't financially overextend us to get anything. But I want things more than what I already have.
Then last night, I exclaimed to Nathan that I'm going on a shopping spree today! on Easter! To celebrate the freedom in His Rising!
Not. (a cupcake would have been easier).
In a last sting, I made Lent about success. About finally accomplishing a goal and then rewarding ... myself ...
Shew. And then imagine my let down when I realize, hey, it's the end of the month and we have rent, student loans, doctor bills, car insurance, and a car payment to make.
No shopping for Shell just yet. Thank you Jesus. (and that's meant to sound sincere, not like the southern lady exclaiming for a sweet tea on the fourth of july.)
Thank you Jesus. Lent is about You. Easter is about You. It is about your sacrifice of giving yourself willingly on the cross in place of me. It is about loving me so much that you not only endured the most brutal beating and mocking, but you marked me as innocent in front of our Father, and told Him that You were the sinner, and that I am perfect. It is about the world being dark for three days and then You rising from the dead and showing the world that you are alive! That you have defeated death and sin meaning we have life. It is about you ascending to heaven in front of witnesses so that they would proclaim to the world (and eventually to me) that all of this is truth.
Thank you Jesus.
This is what Lent is for. It is not so that on Easter I finally get to scratch the forty day itch. It's that because of Easter, I can celebrate the freedom to rejoice in all that I have.