For those that may not know, Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter observed by Christians. It is meant to replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days leading up to and including His crucifixion. Lent is marked by fasting from food and festivities (atleast that is supposed to be the intention). Rarely will you hear of someone fasting for the entire 40 days, though some may fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
My view on Lent has really changed through the years. I grew up Catholic and though there are parts of the faith I truly believe in, there are parts of the religion that I am unsure about. I tend to follow my intuition more now than I ever have in my life. On Ash Wednesday, I sat down to think, how do I feel about Lent? How am I going to participate during the season? Am I going to give anything up this year? What has my experience during Lent been like throughout the years and what does it mean to me now?
Growing up Lent was about no meat on Friday and giving up something like French fries, chocolate or soda until Easter. I never really knew why we did it. It was just something we did. In college, I got a little more serious about it, I mean how could I not when I was going to a catholic college. I learned what it symbolized and actually remembered to fast. The fasting still focused primarily around food. There was no meat service in the cafeteria on campus on Fridays so it was easy to comply with that. And I would try to give something up for season, though avoiding temptations was tough (especially after a few drinks on Friday night). But I made sure I went to church regularly and did what I was supposed to do.
As I grow older (and wiser) I realize that as much as fasting and avoiding temptations is part of Lent, they are also a key part of living a good life. And not something only done for 40 days. I think to myself often, do I live like Jesus would? Do I live like God, since he made me in his likeness? This Lenten season I will take time to reflect on the person I have been and the person who I want to be. I will think about the ways I can improve upon my life and serve others. I will take some time to fast, fast from food as well as from the things that no longer serve me. I will think about all of the negative things that I will give up like worrying, complaining, anger, impatience. And I will think about all the positive things that I will do instead like focusing on gratitude, being positive, having more patience and turning to forgiveness. I will take the 40 days to better myself. And I vow to do this not just during this 40 days, but always.
What does the season of Lent mean to you? What is your focus for these 40 days and beyond?