Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Giving Up (Lent)

One year when I was a kid I gave up brown coke for Lent.  (As opposed to clear "coke" like 7up and Sprite.)

In college I gave up treats.  (I ate the junkiest meals you can imagine to make up for the lack of study snacks.)

As an adult, I gave up Facebook. (I joined Pinterest and Instagram.)

This year I think I just want to give up.

After I lose my cool with my kids, or just don't love them well, I tend to do one or more of these things:
  • Eat all.the.chocolate or drink a bucket of Coke. (the brown kind, obviously)
  • Fall down an Internet/social media/blog hole.
  • Binge-watch Netflix shows.
  • Obsessively re-read favorite novels. Or series of novels. (I'm looking at you, Harry Potter.)

I do the same things when I am lonely, or feeling rejected, forgotten, or unimportant.  Or when there is tension in a relationship, or I just have a hard thing to get done.

I have a gap in my life.

The gap is the distance between who I want to be and who I really am.  

Whenever life requires me to be brave or patient or strong or humble, I can feel the ledge of that yawning distance under my feet.

I try to fill it up with distractions or sugar or stories.

And when the false comforts fall through (as they do), I make plans to bridge the gap by trying harder and being better.  Instead of fasting as a reminder to rely on the grace of Jesus, it becomes an exercise in bridge building.  I try to close the gap with weak, wobbly, selective fasts.

I want to feel holy without feeling uncomfortable.

For Lent this year, I am giving up. 

Instead of trying harder to be who I want to be, to pull myself up by my bootstrappy "shoulds" and "ought tos", I give up.  

When I scrape the rough edges of my selfishness, instead of insulating myself with props or pride, I want to feel the discomfort of the disconnect.

I want to fling myself down into the space between.

This is why: I think Jesus is in the gap.  I think He's waiting for me down there, totally unsurprised by my weakness.  Totally patient with my impatience.  

I think Jesus is waiting for me to put down my distractions and my plans and just sit, awkward with the emptiness of my hands.  

And you know what? I don't think he cares if I'm caffeinated or not.  He just wants me awake to Him, and awake to myself.


So instead of giving something up for Lent, I'm waking up for it.  The best ways I know to do this are to take time for quiet moments, to be mindful when the emotion and stress swell big, and to examine my days, even (especially) when I don't like how the day went.

I'll try to expand on that a bit more in an upcoming post.

Here are two fantastic posts that got me thinking about all of this:

"That’s what Ash Wednesday is all about. It is a truth-telling moment. A moment to allow ourselves to name the distance in our lives between what we are and what we say we believe and grieve it."  Andrew Arndt

My sin—instead of separating me from God—actually binds me to Christ.  James Bryan Smith

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