To Give Up Something for Lent or Not

For many years my family has participated in the spiritual practice of giving up something for Lent. Ideally this practice has a bit of a pruning effect. It takes away something that is hurtful to your relationship with God. But honestly, I have found over the years this practice in itself has been hurtful to my relationship with God.  You see, I am an all or nothing type person. The OCD is strong with this one. So giving up something can become a bit of a personal challenge instead of a personal discipline. I have a feeling if I was a monk hundreds of years ago I’d be the guy who didn’t eat for 40 days, was lying in bed near death but still cheering, “I did it! The rest of you suckers caved. But I fasted for 40 days! Take that!” Yeah, somehow I think this is missing the point. Giving up something for Lent is supposed to draw us closer to God, not up our already rampant neuroticism (oops, maybe that’s just me) . Since I already struggle with trying to win God’s love by being a good girl, this practice of doing something that will improve my relationship with God can be dangerous. I’m the kind of girl who needs to realize God already loves me no matter whether I complete my Lenten fast or not. And nothing I can do will either increase or decrease that love. So what’s an overachieving good girl to do? After reading many grace filled authors, spending time in God’s word and in prayer, for me it has come to this: What is separating me from experiencing the fullness of Christ’s love and grace that already exists for me? When I ask myself this question, the answer is more often something like fear or anger, not my chocolate habit. But truth be told chocolate is easier to give up than anger. I am not even sure if you can “give up” something like anger. I think it is more of a letting go than a giving up. So what it is this year that you need to let go of in order to experience the fullness of God’s love and grace for you? I invite you to pray over this. Know that when the answer comes, the doing will come more from God than you. As if God is standing there ready to take our anger from us and all we have to do is release it. For our relationship with God is not built on our goodness or efforts. It is built on God’s goodness and God’s efforts. Good news, right? Whatever you decide to do for Lent, may it draw you deeper into the embrace of Christ’s love and grace.  ]]>

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