I always thought Lent was something observed only by Catholics. I consider myself a non-denominational Christian. So, imagine my surprise when the pastor at my new church mentioned an optional six-week Lent study in which we could participate if we chose. Um, what?! So, yeah. I had to ask myself: Really, what is Lent?
A time for self-denial?
If Lent is about self-denial, that sure would explain all the declarations of people claiming they are giving up chocolate or smoking or alcohol or social media or some-other-vice in the name of Lent, right? So, is Lent a time to purge what is bad for us or what has, perhaps, consumed too much of our time or life? To that, I say: Maybe.
A time for fasting?
Fasting is when you deny yourself sustenance. Food. I will be honest here. I don't know if this means people are living on water or broth or what. Lent is, like, 40 days! I know I have read that some fast during the day during Lent & only allow themselves a small, non-glamorous evening meal. It's another form of self-denial, I suppose.
A time for discipline?
Is there something you're being called to do? Perhaps there is a new habit you should take up — or a habit you need to GIVE UP (taking that self-denial bit a bit further)? Is there something you've been putting off in your life? Have you been avoiding a particular practice in your relationship with God? Maybe Lent is a time to show some discipline & take up whatever it is you're being called to do.
Is Lent even necessary?
It is said that Lent isn't really covered in the Bible & it is brought on by the religious organization. Lent is supposed to “mimic” the prayerful time Jesus spent in the woods without food, then suffering on the cross. Lent is about everything Jesus went through leading up to His death on the cross for us. Then, it ends with a celebration of His resurrection with a feast (Easter). Observing Lent is unnecessary, according to some, because it isn't specifically said we must observe it this way; we should be seeking to be closer to God EVERY DAY anyway.
What's the verdict on Lent?
Obviously, I am no expert. Far from it, in fact. My interpretation, even after researching a bit, is likely skewed with a bunch of holes. BUT, to me, Lent is a time in which we should seek to become closer to God. If your relationship with Him will strengthen through self-denial or fasting or discipline, by all means, GO FOR IT. Maybe it is something as simple as revisiting the part of your Bible that educates you more about Jesus' life; particularly if it's the part leading up to the cross & His resurrection. Or, perhaps, it is as simple as rededicating a portion of your daily schedule to prayer & reflection. Or maybe it is about being kinder to YOU, who was made in His image??
How will YOU observe Lent?
Or will you at all? I honestly believe there is no wrong way to build your relationship with God as long as your heart is genuinely in the right place. If you do not KNOW better, you cannot DO better. But, the flip side of that is that not knowing isn't an excuse to not do. Sure, there's probably a more “technically correct” or “eloquent” way to explain or observe Lent; it doesn't mean your efforts to seek out God & grow with Him are for naught. That is what I believe. Maybe one day I will be able to expand upon this as I learn more, but for now, this is where I am.
If you'd like to continue this conversation, please comment below to tell me if you're observing Lent & how. You can also pop over to the Calculated Chaos Community to share — that's where I will divulge what I am choosing to do about Lent this year. 😉 If you're curious, consider this your invitation to join us. Of course, you can always pop me a private message or email (email@example.com) if you'd like to have a more one-on-one conversation. I am always open to that!