Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. It is also my first time ever observing Lent. Because I have been raised in the Baptist faith, Lent is not something my family members or church has ever encouraged. However, I've been studying some scripture and thoughts on Lent, and have decided it is something I would like to take part in.
The following quotes capture for me what I believe to be the essence or spirit of the Lenten season. Of course, I'm no expert on Lent or theology for that matter...this is my first year after all. These are just some verses and thoughts that prompted my participation in this season.
"We are at that time of the year when we are invited to test our inner freedom and to question the notion: I can take it, or leave it. Lent is about regaining self-control, especially in those areas that damage others. We don't admire those whose appetites or habits lead them by the nose. A pure heart create for me, O God. Put a steadfast spirit within me." (source)
"A fast creates margin for God to move. Temporarily changing our routine of comfort jars us off high center. A fast is not necessarily something we offer God, but it assists us in offering ourselves. As Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, said, “It is exchanging the needs of the physical body for those of the spirit.”
Hatmaker, Jen (2013-12-02). 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess (pp. 4-5). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Lent is meant to represent Jesus' 40-day fasting and temptation in the desert. Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter Sunday is the last day of Lent. That will be April 19 this year....believe me, it's marked on my calendar. Lent is essentially a way that many Christians, myself included, choose to prepare our hearts for Easter Sunday.
For my first Lenten season, I am choosing to give up sweets for the next 40 days. I chose sweets because I thoughtlessly reach for and eat this kind of junk food on a daily basis. It's not that I think I shouldn't eat these things or am trying to lose any weight. It's just that I almost always regret my choice of mindlessly eating a handful of candy or a bowl of ice cream, and I just do it out of habit...especially at night if I am bored or sitting and watching TV. I especially find myself over-indulging in sweet treats here at Girl Scout cookie time and Easter when ALL of my favorite candy hits the stores.
To help me with my Lent fasting of sweets and focus more on God during this time, I ordered a Lent journal from Naptime Diaries, a blog and print shop I have adored for the last couple of years. You can see the journal pictured above. It is just so beautiful, and I'll be spending time in it instead of stuffing my face with Cadbury mini eggs, Samoas, and Edy's S'mores ice cream. This is my chance to be intentional about my choices...taking the time to feel the grief of Christ's betrayal and death and my sin makes the joy of Easter Sunday that much more meaningful.
If you're interested, you too, can order a Lent journal. It won't be here in time for Ash Wednesday (obviously), but the journal is not dated, so you can start your journaling on a day of your choosing.
I'll be posting each week about my Lent experience, so be sure and come back if you're interested in hearing my thoughts and learning about my growth during this fasting experience. Feel free to enjoy a sweet treat in my honor as well...and tell me about it. I'll live vicariously.