Preparing for Lent
The season of Lent is fast approaching. Next Wednesday, March 5th, is Ash Wednesday which officially begins the Lenten season. As I have said before, I am not from a tradition that follows the liturgical calendar, so Lent is a fuzzy topic for many I encounter. I want to offer some brief thoughts about what this season sets out to accomplish and then a suggestion for your preparations.
Lent is the 40 days that precede Easter, minus Sundays. Lent is traditionally a time of fasting in preparation for celebrating in Eastertide. You might hear many people say what they are ‘giving up for Lent’ in these coming weeks. Fasting from social media, chocolate, or alcohol are common. However, if you don’t know WHY you are fasting, the discipline becomes about willpower rather than transformation.
Lent is a season that calls us back to God. It asks us to notice where we are resisting God. Are there places in our lives where we assume we can handle this, and don’t need God to meddle? Are there places in our lives where we don’t want God poking around for fear of the pain that could be inflicted? Are there places where we never considered inviting God? When we have identified these places, then we consider how to practice surrendering them. This is where fasting can be a transformational experience. For instance, if I am aware that I use food, especially sweets, to soothe feelings of stress, then going without sweets for the 40 days of Lent to become aware of those feelings is a healthy practice of making space for transformation. The fast from sweets isn’t about losing weight or gaining other health benefits, it is about surrendering to God my own inadequacy to rule the world.
Over the weekend, I invite you to just let this question float around in you:
Where am I resisting God?
Your first answer to the question may be true, but it is unlikely to be deeply true. Sit with the question. Take it with you to prayer. Ask to see more clearly. Seek to see beneath the resistance–why do you resist here?
As you sit with this question, remind yourself over and over of this truth: you are the beloved of God! Whatever God reveals as you ask is revealed in love. Trust in God’s love.