It wasn't always so.
I remember Mum giving up chocolate, total agony for a girl who more-or-less grew up in a candy shop surrounded by sweets.
I've always associated Lent with the giving up of some things, laying it down, suffering with Christ.
"I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10-11)
I have had seasons of entering that suffering with Christ. A burden to bear, a relationship fragmented, a barely bearable longing for more, oh so much more. I have come to know Him deeply in those places and felt known by Him--intimately.
Yet, I also know the unsettledness of when that season is over, when fruition has come, light pierces the darkness, the load is lifted, and sometimes, friends, that can feel just as painful.
The, "What now? Who am I here? In this place? This new territory?"
The laying it down, but now the lifting up....
For Lent this year, I have known for quite some time I needed to lay down social media. My iPhone has felt an added appendage. Some nights I will tell myself, Ok I want to read. Put the phone down. There is nothing to see or know. Only to find my fingers tapping onto Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest yet again. 5 minutes more...turns to 10 minutes more....to 30 minutes more...to time to go to bed you've lost your reading time now.
Lent provides a great opportunity to be intentional on the laying down. Laying down something that has become a nuisance. The thing I don't want to do but keep doing. Or simply the things that fill my time that could be replaced with a better thing. It's different for everyone. Some years it's been Diet Coke or chocolate. Others movies, magazines, or media.
I get the laying down part.
But in more recent years I've been challenged by this question, What am I gaining? What is being added to my life?
Now here me clearly, I am not saying forego the suffering. There is a place to feel the loss, miss the connection, wonder what I might be missing? But it can't stay there. I don't think life with Jesus in the kingdom is meant to stay there. It weaves in and out from death to life, loss to gain, broken to restored.
Jesus came to give us abundant life. And I think one of the key points of Lent is this: Jesus came to give us fullness of life and help us lay down the things we've filled our lives with, the fulness we've clamored to create for ourselves, and instead wants to liberate us with the abundance that freely comes from His hands of plenty.
So in this season as I wait on the Lord, trusting in the new work he is doing in my heart, He's asking me to slowly emerge. The break up was hard. It opened up all sorts of hope and longings. The thing that is so exciting in a relationship is being discovered and discovering, my ordinary world opening up full of new possibilities.
I think Jesus wants to keep that place in me open. Guy or no guy, He is saying that place in you coming alive matters to Me. But I can tend to hunker back down into what I know, the familiar surroundings, people, places, and routine.
So this Lent I am giving up social media, which also includes this blog, but it also means I'm gaining opened up space in my heart for other things, places to explore.
Sundays, "feast days," will be spent going on adventures with Jesus. These are meant to open me up much in the way the new relationship did. It made my known world, bigger, vaster, more adventurous. I have no idea what these days will bring, only that they are meant to get me out of my usual, hunkering down mentality and open me up more to my surroundings. Hikes? New coffee shops? Day outings? I'm curious. It may be small it may be grande, the point is it will be different.
So see you after Easter. Looking forward to sharing some of my adventures and hearing of yours as well!
What are you wanting to gain during Lent?