Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More in Lent

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!


  1. I try and give up something I don't like about myself during lent. One year I gave up "control". This year I'm giving up "guilt". I find that concentrating on it for 40 days actually helps cure me just a little bit.

  2. I came across the "doing more" idea a few years ago, and I choose do it because it is like training and practice . . . creating a new good habit. But I also choose to give up something. In fact, it has to happen because in our full lives if we choose to do one new thing, something else must give. Instead of letting it happen haphazardly, I decide ahead of time and make it a conscious decision. This year I realise that my time on the computer has got completely out of control, hours can go by! So I am limiting my time in hopes of getting my life back on an even keel . . . and that time will go to 1)more time on bible study & prayer, 2) creating more scrapbook pages for my children who have requested it (instead of looking at everyone else's creations! and less card challenges!) and 3) spending more time with my husband in the evening.
    I am currently reading "A Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are" by Ann Voskamp. About how thanksgiving brings a full life of joy. And I have started a thanksgiving journal many times, and petered out many times. And so I am considering adding it again, but trying to be realistic this time around . . . I often set up unrealistic goals for myself then fail and get discouraged. So I think I will finish the book first!

  3. My 8-year-old returned from his Catechism class yesterday with a sheet of paper that listed the 40 days until Easter and how he could mark something extra that he had done each day. Some extra that is good, of course (he is 8, I'm glad they clarified it).

    Same basic idea, I think, and I am all for it. It won't hurt him to do something good every day.

  4. I love the idea of adding something, but I'd do that after Lent. I still like the idea of giving something up, especially something I really like - coffee, my favorite pillow, a tv show I watch regularly. I like being reminded of the ridiculous abundance I have, the excesses in my life and how grateful I can be to have them. To wake up every day and be reminded, "Oh, yeah... no coffee..." is the proverbial mustard seed reminder of what Jesus gave up for me.
    Also, it feels like a little test I'm giving myself. Can I make this one tiny little temporary sacrifice in honor of my faith? And if I can't, what is my faith, really?

  5. Our minister gave a large wooden dice (die?) to each church family this year for Lent. Each side has something printed on it, like gossip, being judgemental etc.... He challenged us to roll it each morning and give up that one thing all day. I really like this and have found that the roll usually produces something I specifically needed to be reminded of (Pastor Dave said that casting lots was a Biblical way of hearing God's voice) and I feel closer to God each day as His voice reminds me of my morning promise.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!