Years ago, when I still gave up something for Lent, I resented this time of year. Giving something up seemed to me such a pointless exercise. It didn't make me contemplate Jesus' sacrifice; if anything, it made me concentrate even more on myself and what I wanted and could not have. After I allowed myself to opt out of the whole giving-something-up thing, I appreciated the season more, prayed more, felt more connected to and respectful of the message of Lent.
Today, Ash Wednesday caught me by surprise. The lateness of Lent this year, combined with being sick the last two Sundays and missing church, made me forget all about it. At the grocery store this afternoon, a friend from church asked if I was going to the service tonight. I said no, that we never go to the Wednesday meeting. She said that she only asked because it was Ash Wednesday.
I felt stupid. What kind of almost-commissioned Stephen Minister loses track of such an important day?
Then, a few hours later, I received an email from my aunt. She wrote,
"Wendy, my former priest, gave us a Lenten challenge a couple of years back. She suggested that rather than going on a diet, or giving something up, that we add something positive to our lives in gratitude for Jesus' sacrifice. Add 5 more minutes in prayer. Add an hour volunteering somewhere every week in Lent. Add 5 minutes to the time you spend with your kids at bedtime and talk about what Jesus did for us. Add a compliment to a conversation."
I'd heard this idea before, but today it struck me forcibly as something I should actually do. It felt right and good. So I'm totally in for more in Lent. For me, it will be more time in daily Bible study and more cards sent to friends and family so they know I'm thinking of them.
Would you care to join me in doing more in Lent? Perhaps you already do this. Even if you feel a spiritual lift from giving something up for Lent, perhaps you'd like to add something positive to your life as well. Please share your thoughts in the comments!