Today is Lent.
I’ve written before about how I didn’t really grow up with a Lent tradition in my church.
But in my current church, it is a centerpiece. And I am learning so much.
There are years I have given up (sugar, alcohol…), and years I have given back, and last year I don’t think I did anything.
This year, I talked to the kids about it. What the season means and where we should focus. From dust we were born, and to dust we shall return.
A season acknowledging our humanness and seeking repentance and finding our way to the Resurrection.
As we talked last night, we talked about the places we needed to sacrifice to make more room for God’s work in our life. It wasn’t a deep and profound conversation. It was done in fits and spurts as kids darted and interrupted but we got to the main points.
The main point is one I was reminded of in a blog post by Ann Voskamp yesterday: There’s a giving up that only gains. There’s a sacrifice that only fulfills… When we know we are but dust, when our hearts have been crushed – is exactly when we are meant to entrust all into the hands of the Potter, so He can remake all to be more like Christ... Give up, whatever you need, to hear God speak.
What did we need to give up to hear God speak? What am I giving up to know God more?
This is where I believe we arrived. I am going to give up yelling, or try really hard. This is a struggle I grew into after I had kids. I never yelled until I became a parent. I didn’t lose my temper. I stuffed. But now, I yell. I grew up with a yelling parent and I really want to do it differently.
The eldest is going to give up yelling too. Because when a parent yells, a lot of times the kids yell too. The youngest, who originally was going to sign up for the same thing, has decided instead to give up t.v. This is huge because he is absolutely my t.v. addict. Little bit has not said what she is focusing on yet.
So, to slightly incentivize (and remind us), we are going to have four glass jars on the kitchen table. They will start with five one dollar bills in them. You flip on the t.v. or yell or whatever it is, you have to pay one of your dollars in your jar (and you’ll receive them based on when others forget about this season’s sacrifice). We’ll see how it works.
Granted, the money is a less spiritual aspect, but I’m hoping it will hold us accountable.
And in the giving up, we’re going to have to lean heavy on Jesus because I can tell you right now I can’t do this alone. None of us can give up part of our sin and self without a massive dose of God-strength.
The good news: He’ll give to all who ask.
So here’s to trying, not in our strength, but trying in His strength and to grow more like Him in the giving up of ourselves: Your strength will not get it done… Your power will not do it either. Only the power of my Spirit will do it,’ says the Lord who rules over all. (Zech. 4:6)