So growing up, my denomination didn’t practice Lent. Or more specifically, we did not practice “giving ‘something up” from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. So I’d only recently, as an adult, been exposed to the practice. I actually did it the past several years. Well, sort of. I said I was giving something up, and I may or may not have done a good job of it.
I did not spend a lot of time understanding the practice and what it symbolized, so I only really started toying with a Lent forfeit based on what my church communicated about the season’s importance. Then I read this post by Ann Voskamp this past week. She also grew up in a church where the “giving up”practice wasn’t highlighted. I love what she had to say about it, “Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation. We renounce to be reborn. We break away to become.” I got that. I understood that.
It also made me revisit how to go about Lent this year. What if this time was really about formation? What if it was about rebirth? What if it was about becoming? So what if, instead of giving something up this season, I adopted a new behavior instead? What if I affirmatively took on a practice where I was lacking? An action and reaction that would form me more closer to the image of my God? One that would help me on my path to becoming more like Him?
So that’s what I’m going to do. I am going to be a more patient mother and wife. I am going to affirmatively practice patience. Which I know means I’m going to get hit with everything under the sun to make me more impatient. But the reality is that I react when I don’t need to and I snap when I shouldn’t. I will practice perspective to promote patience. (Say that three times fast.) But it really is perspective. Perspective that this situation is so small in the grand scheme that patience is the best course. And patience will help me in becoming more like Him. Heck, Proverbs 19 was probably written by a momma: A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
I am a person that likes things done right then and the right way (according to me). Patience is not my virtue. But I know that the Bible is full of references saying that it should be. So for this Lenten season, I will trying wearing patience. And I know, as Ann Voskamp suggests, it will require me drawing closer to God each day because I can not do it on my own.
Colossians 3 – Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
James 1 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Galatians 5 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… (NAS)
Shavonnah Schreiber says
Gindi, I love this post! This year I have given up one hour a day of sleep for lent to be replaced with one hour a day of quiet time with God. Instead of going to bed at my normal time or sleeping in (if you call staying in bed on Saturday until 6:30 a.m. sleeping in) I spend that time with God. This is the first time I have done something like this and I am already starting to see the fruits of my sacrifice…one thing is I feel more centered and calm at a time when work has been quite stressful. Of course once I realized I could do this, my flesh started to get in the way… some days I find myself thinking of other things I could be doing with that hour instead of just sitting and being quiet with God. I am working to stay focused (prayers please!).
Wow! What a great way to use your Lent focus – such a transformative commitment! That inspires me too – though I might have to phase it in over 15 minutes 🙂
I love this. I live in a part of the country where practicing Lent is not just a part of religious beliefs, but also a part of the culture. Ever since I moved here I have been struggling with how to reconcile what I learned (or I guess didn’t learn) growing up with this practice. Nice to hear from another who is doing the same thing.
Thanks Sarah – and you’re so right – that’s a big difference btwn the Midwest and the East Coast – I figure I will work on what God reveals will help but not feel compelled to try what isn’t part of my personal relationship….