Why I don’t like giving things up for Lent…

As we enter into the Lenten Season, I wish I could say that I am fully prepared. The truth is, I’ve never really observed.

That’s not something I feel great admitting, but it’s the truth and there’s no running from it. I don’t come from an extensive church background, and the first time I encountered Ash Wednesday at my Christian high school, I almost wiped off a poor girl’s forehead because I thought she fell asleep on a heap of pencil shavings.

As I’ve gotten older and my faith as grown stronger and weaker to varying degrees at various times in life, I find myself yearning for something far deeper than the every day faith walk I’ve been on. It would seem that Lent would be the perfect opportunity to dig deeper into the ancient mysteries of what I consider to be the most important aspect of my life, yet here I am, completely unaware.

All around me, friends are giving up certain things they feel led to, and I’m slightly jealous of that. You see, I have very strong convictions about a number of things, but if I’m completely honest, I don’t find myself feeling convicted strongly enough to give up some things for a period of self-denial. Perhaps that could be attributed to the current state of my heart; which is to say, not exactly the most receptive. I’m currently wrestling with God on a number of things, most of which I will eventually give in to His leading, and unfortunately, a few of which I will continue to hold on to for dear life; that is, my life. The life I currently want to live and the things I currently want to fill my mind and heart with. Some of them are good. Just as many of them are not.

So it’s with fear and trembling that I hold on for dear life to the things I deem important and necessary in order to live. It pains me to say that more than likely, my lack of conviction is a result of me allowing myself too much power, as opposed to submitting myself to a Higher Power.

The complexities of this season are beyond my ability to understand and unwrap. The deep theological mind I once thought I possessed, and once deemed important to attain, has eluded me for quite some time. I’m not the genius I used to think I was. I’m hardly turning into the man I wanted to become.

At the root of this inability to dive deeper lies fear of what I might encounter, but the crux of the matter is that I just don’t want it enough. This is why I have such respect for those who are able to engage with this season in such an intentional manner. Self-denial is a virtue I have yet to possess.

The other day I tweeted the following:

I took great pride in my insightful little witticism, but what I’m beginning to realize now is that, while I still feel I had a point in what I said, it was my feeling of conviction that caused me to say it. I felt dirty and unworthy in the presence of such selfless acts of spirituality. And I was. I’m beginning to see a little more now the essence of Lent, and am choosing to make a commitment.

So instead of giving something up, I’m going to attempt to pick something up. Instead of setting aside those cookies, Facebook/Twitter, and all other completely noble Lenten pursuits, I’m going to attempt to add a level of intentionality to my journey that has long been overdue.

I’m going to dig deeper; something I haven’t done in quite awhile. And I hope you will too.



3 thoughts on “Why I don’t like giving things up for Lent…

  1. Josh Mauldin says:

    I have decided to do the same. Instead of giving up something i am picking up and developing a discipline i have neglected. If i am honest i have a weak prayer life so for the Lenten season i am going to pray the hours everyday. This is the first time i have really decided to observe Lent since i am also from a tribe that never observed it at all.

  2. I love that you’re going through the hours of prayer, and I think I might attempt to add that to my season as well. I have a terrible prayer life, as I struggle so badly with the whole concept, being that I’m very much a visually oriented person.

  3. Forgive me– think I’m writing a reflective article-response. 🙂 Buuut… Had to read your post because I’ve never done Lent before, either. I entertained a couple of notions about fasting for Lent a couple of years in the past, but nothing ever came of it. I guess I just find that fasting works better in my life when it’s something God’s leading me specifically to do, and not just when I’m trying to jump on a bandwagon. I do love fasting then, but … otherwise I fail, I’m miserable, and I’m not connecting with God because my heart’s not in the right place.

    Tonight, though, I had my first-ever Ash Wednesday experience. And for the first time it clicked and I got it. My roommates and I held an impromptu candlelight repentance service, praying for each other, taking communion, singing– and yeah, we even did the ashes. I used to laugh at that whole deal. I guess maybe I see more meaning in that: we came together as children of God, joining to repent. In Scripture, that always brought power.

    Anywho though– “At the root of this inability to dive deeper lies fear of what I might encounter, but the crux of the matter is that I just don’t want it enough.” I love that you used the word “crux.” Not to overspiritualize or anything, but “crux”– a crucial point, a fork in the road, a fulcrum, if you will– is related to the same root word as “crucifix” or “cross.” A cross is a burden, and in the case of a Christian, it’s a decision. And what tips that fulcrum’s scale is the fact that we get out of our pursuit of God what we put into it. How often I fall under the weight of not wanting that cross enough to pick it up! Maybe that’s my prayer for this season of preparation: that God will lead His people to so deeply want to dive deeper that nothing will hold us back.

    Will I continually fast through Lent? I do want to remain reflective through this time, and that’s one way to handle it. Guess we’ll see. I’m still talking to God about that one. Heh. Think I should go wash my forehead.

    Appreciate your writing, Jared.

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