So many people during the Christian season of Lent give up something. It’s what we’re suppose to do, right? In preparation for celebrating Easter, we give up Starbucks or chocolate, or fast-food, and the list goes on. And so we ask each other, “What have you given up?” Almost like its the newest fad – its “in” to not eat chocolate for 40 days. Or it’s “in” to not drink caffeine for 40 days and be a beast of a person because you didn’t get your morning caffeine and count down to Easter when you can have caffeine again.
The tradition of fasting during Lent is an ancient tradition. But are we fasting in the sense of the ancient practice. The spiritual practice of fasting typically involved not eating while the sun was up (in some cultures there is a ritual of a feast in the evenings). In place of worrying about our physical needs, we focus on our spiritual needs. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see people who have given up Starbucks or chocolate I see that their lamenting is focused on Starbucks or chocolate. Thus the point is lost.
If the intention of giving something up is to get closer to Christ and go deeper in our faith, than shouldn’t we focus on that? Our church this Lenten season gave out a book to our church goers. For each week of Lent it introduces a different spiritual practice. For some it could be the first time they have heard about this practice.
Focusing on our spiritual needs provides us a time to consider how we are living our lives. Do our actions and words reflect our faith? Are we striving towards perfection? One of my students in my youth group decided to give up being mean. Another wants to give up “gossipy stuff.” Cutting ourselves off from negative behaviors and putting a focus on positive, or holy, living, is a good use of our Lent.
So, how’s Lent going for you?