This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the start of the season of Lent in the churches that follow a liturgical calendar. Five years ago, I published a post with this same title around this idea of giving something up for the 40 days of the season of Lent. Looking back on it, I smile at the memories of the person who wrote those words. In March of 2015, I was just a few months into my renewed sense of faith and had no idea the transformation that would come six months later when faced with the unexpected losses of my grandmother and aunt two days apart.
During the season of Lent, it is customary to “give something up” for the 40ish days leading up to Easter. As I have gotten older and matured in my faith, I have found that I sort of love this practice even though I no longer regularly attend a liturgical centered church. It’s a yearly rhythm that I find holds more meaning to me now as an adult.
For me, Lent carries with it a sort of quiet stillness. There’s a solemn nature about it that speaks to my soul in a way that is sometimes hard to explain. I’m not “afraid” of deeper emotions and tend to welcome them and reflect on them when they come and Lent provides an opportunity for that. Yes, there is joy that gets celebrated on Easter morning but it was our sins that Jesus suffered and died for. This customary practice of fasting/self-denial is one that only as an adult have I truly come to appreciate and my views on what to fast “from” have certainly evolved over time.
The forty (ish) days of Lent are meant to align with the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, where Satan would try unsuccessfully to tempt him. And it’s beautifully poetic that the season concludes with the celebration of Easter because we are celebrating the truth that the light has conquered the darkness. Death has no hold over us and Satan has no power over those of us in whom Christ dwells. When we accept Christ, we accept this brilliant truth. So, yes, there’s a solemn-ness to Lent but there is also hopeful expectation.
For me, my goal and hope for the Lenten season is aligning my heart to be closer in line with the Lord’s. It’s choosing to remove the things that hinder me from doing that or even adding new rhythms or habits that help support this intention. Growing up, I typically gave up things like soda or candy for Lent. But was that Pepsi really the thing that was standing between me and Jesus? I mean, Pepsi is good but that wasn’t what was getting in my way.
These days, Lent looks more like intentionally following a Lent-themed book or devotional. It looks like considering a sacrifice of a bit of sleep in exchange for an earlier alarm clock to prioritize my quiet time before my day truly gets underway. It looks like intentionally reflecting on the Gospel and praising God for a gift we are wholly unworthy of.
This year, I will be reading Russ Ramsey’s The Passion of the King of Glory and am really looking forward to it! I read The Advent of the Lamb of God during Advent and it was a really sweet addition to the season. And I am in fact going to do my best to actually wake up at least an hour earlier than I currently am. I have a good routine with my quiet time in the evenings before bed, but I want to also start my days with the Lord as well.
When 2020 began, I felt this inexplicable sense of expectation in my bones. This feeling like the Lord was going to do something mighty this year. And in many ways I’m seeing glimpses of that already. As we prepare to usher in the Lenten season, I am entering it feeling just so hopeful and so ready for more of Jesus.