I tend to write things past tense. Things that have happened, things I’ve heard, feelings I once had. Before. Like, not right now. Like a year later I’m now pondering how to go about writing about the lump I found in my breast and the subsequent biopsy (I’m fine), or a month later I’m debating sharing the emotional journey of saying yes to Jesus laying the fostering of two girls in our lap and then taking them away (were mostly fine) and you all know it took me two and a half years to share my thoughts on my dad dying.
I reckon that present tense makes one more vulnerable. And can we just all agree that vulnerability is scary? It’s way easier to share a story when you know the outcome and it’s all wrapped up in a pretty package complete with a design of washi tape and a hand written tag. It’s much more difficult to put something out there when you don’t know what tomorrow brings. What the next hour holds. What God might be teaching you right now. Or worse, acting all like you know what he’s teaching you only to have it blow up in your face! That’s gutsy.
But here I sit, right now, today, just the day before you’re reading this, (hey! a girl needs one days editing grace, capiche?) in front of my computer contemplating what I’ve just started. And how I’ve already failed. And whether I should really share this right here and right now or if I should wait and just sugar coat the awesome parts at the end. But I’m going to assume the majority of you out there are gonna choose raw over sugar coated and so here I go. Lent.
I’ve never ‘done’, ‘observed’, ‘practiced’ Lent before as you can see by my not even knowing what to call it. I truly didn’t even really get what it was until a few years ago. Sure, there was my one friend in elementary school who could never eat the treats in the goodie bag from my birthday party because they fell over the Lenten (??) season. She always gave up candy. My birthday was in the thick of her fast. (March 28 in case you want to pocket that info. Just sayin’.) But other than that I had no frame of reference and this friend attended a different type of church than we did and so it didn’t even occur to me that this might be something I would do.
A few years ago I noticed that more and more Christians around me, my friends and their children even, were giving up various things for Lent. I won’t lie, I didn’t see it as more than a glorified New Years resolution. Give up candy for a month and a bit? Great! Might even lose a few pounds. Get off of Facebook for awhile? Probably should do that anyways, Lent or not. Ditch the caffeine addiction? I already did that once a year anyways. I admit self-righteousness. I admit a lack of understanding. I admit I still have no idea why I’m doing this!
But something in my thinking changed recently. I was pounded over the head with the notion that maybe these things I don’t understand, the ways I don’t quite get, instead of standing back on the sidelines and judging, maybe, just maybe, if I took part I would understand just a little bit more.
So I decided that this was the year. I will tell you that I fear the stigma of doing this just because it’s what Christian bloggers do. But that fear alone is driving me. This is not for you. This is for me. This is not for blog content or so that I can come across as overly religious (in fact, I dread being thought of as overly religious, a pride in itself that I need to give up) but I really want to understand.
I’ve gotta tell ya, part of me hates myself for thinking this is going to be so easy and part of me hates myself already for judging because I’m only on day 2 and it’s not easy. Not easy at all.
I’m committing to reading each day a bit of what Lent is. Where it came from, who started it, why people continue to do it, soak up the scripture I’m lead to by my study in preparation for Easter. I want to learn the in’s and out’s (if there are indeed in’s and out’s) not just as a bystander but as a partaker. Thus, I dive in.
What have I given up, you ask? I’m so glad you did.
I’m fasting from any sort of liquid intake that isn’t water. No morning coffee. No afternoon green tea. No chai latte at Starbucks. No San Pellegrino from the fridge. No strongbow during the hockey game. No glass of wine with my girls. No comfort of hot chocolate on a cold and stormy night. No smoothie post yoga. No sips of root beer from my boys mugs during movie nights.
Seemed easy enough. Yet not so easy that I seemed like a cop out from the get-go. Apparently I overestimate myself.