I love the season of Lent in some sort of sick, depriving way. Kind of like a long run, I love the feeling of engaging and completing something difficult. But I enjoy the spiritual aspect of it, as well. It’s a season of daily being faced with a choice, being presented constantly with the opportunity to choose Jesus over myself. Every year Lent comes around again, and every year I find myself needing a bit more of that practice.
However, the past several years I’ve encountered some Lenten Stress. What do I give up? What has a grip on me that needs loosening? Where can I sacrifice to identify with the sacrifice of the season? How do I find a sense of balance between challenge and reasonable?
I can start with a few standard areas of examination.
1. Food. I love food. All kinds and lots of it. I’ve realized how much I enjoy food now that my dietary intake has been reduced by nearly an entire food group. That being said, with my gastronomic difficulties, I don’t feel it necessary to add in another reduction. Honestly, my morning cup of coffee is one of the highlights of my day. And though I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind to give up grains “for Lent”, I think I’d be missing the point to sacrifice to Jesus what has already been sacrificed to my daughter. I’m sure there’s a sort of idolatry there someplace.
2. Facebook. I’ve done this one as well, and it went smooth. I’ve contemplated a FB reduction at other points, but my current state of social solitude doesn’t bode well with a complete cutoff from those I enjoy stalking. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to get any of my news.
3. TV. Seeing as how I watch maybe an hour a week, it’s just not enough of a sacrifice. The thing could disappear until I want to take a Sunday afternoon nap and need a movie to drift off to.
So, here’s my only other nomination:
“A nagging wife is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet…” (Proverbs 27:15)
It’s one thing to lovingly ask your spouse and children to participate in the upkeep of the home. It’s a new ballgame when those “requests” take the form of sarcasm, a tone with a bite, a belittling of sorts. So I’d like to give up the nagginess altogether. What does that look like?
“Dear, can you please take your bowl to the dishwasher?” Acceptable.
“Is the dishwasher that much further from the countertop where you put your bowl?” Not acceptable.
However, though it’s a nice life adaptation, I’m not sure that fixing my naggy drip keeps completely with the spirit of Lent. It does offer me that choice of Jesus (and those I love) over myself each day, but I feel that there should be more. Perhaps it’s the fact that I can’t join in lament with fellow Lent-giver-uppers about how hard it is to go without (because then I look like a real hag). And if I can’t complain about it, is it really sacrifice? Perhaps it’s just a mid-year New Years Resolution.
So, I have just a few more hours to contemplate what, over the next 40 days, in its absence will help me realize presence.