I don’t believe I have given up anything for Lent (well, for the whole of Lent) since I was a novice in Mother Teresa’s convent. (Entering that convent was my teenage rebellion!)
As I’ve written, I had entirely too much of Catholicism and Catholic practices, so it’s been almost 30 years since I’ve bothered with Lent, which has connotations for me of forced, smarmy piety. The nuns used to give us a big heart with little coloured hearts. We were to fill one of these in whenever we made an “act,” a little sacrifice. Bit our tongues, picked up scraps of rubbish we saw, passed up a sweet. (Actually come to think of it, all these practices could still be useful to me today).
But this year, a friend suggested to me that I practice Lent traditionally because there is something special about the 40 day preparation in Lent for the glory of God to be revealed. To see his incomparably great power for us who believe which is like the working of his mighty strength when he resurrected Jesus.
I have decided to do Lent properly. Give up something to make room in my heart for God. And put on something to fill the void.
First, I thought I would give up sugar (anything sweet or desserts) and chocolate. But you see, following a health scare which left me disinclined to eat anything which does not bless my body, I have already given those up, and will continue through Lent (though I will probably have the occasional treat after Lent).
So I have decided to try modified fasting as detailed in this online course I’m following. It’s not water fasting—one has milk, veggie juices, and veg soup. However, fasting does simplify life in that one has more time for God and contemplation.
I have tried fasting before, and it’s always been a blessing. In breakthroughs with caffeine addiction, in breakthroughs in my writing, with good ideas and clear thinking.
It makes me a bit grumpy and cranky though!
A bad habit or an addiction, such as comfort or emotional eating is not easily broken in a vacuum, as Jesus points out in this little illustration. The unhealthy crutch and coping mechanism has to be replaced by a healthy crutch or coping mechanism, as detailed in Colossians 3.
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
So, what am I going to put on?
Well, the same friend I mentioned earlier suggested praying for the comfort and the filling of the Holy Spirit whenever I am tempted to eat when I am not hungry (but am bored, stressed, angry, sad, worried, restless, excited, hyper, happy). It has been amazing, and just cutting that habit of eating when not physically hungry has helped me shed 3 pounds this week.
I am also going to continue blogging through the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John which I started in Advent. (See Let Nothing be Wasted or Friend, Come Higher.)
What’s that, Anita? More blogging? But you are too sedentary already. Nooooo.
Well, okay, since, I intend to read through the Bible again this year, and am a bit behind, I am adding in a 20 minute walk to my regular exercise, listening to the Bible on my iPod through Lent. And the extra help will ensure I finish it by the 31st of DecemberJ
So that’s me. What about you?
Trivia: Lent comes from O.E. lencten “springtime, spring,” from W.Gmc. *langa-tinaz “long-days.” Lent refers to the increasing daylight. And welcome lengthening daylight. I love you.
Lent is 46 days, since Sundays do not count as fast days.