I participated in lent once in college.
I gave up sodas.
But my desire to give up sodas for health reasons coincidentally coincided with Lent. So I guess that doesn’t really count as “participating” in the observance since there was no heart behind it.
So you can say that I’ve never legitimately observed lent. Which, is that strange that I’m a believing Christian and have never participated in lent?
Oh well, Jesus forgives me so…it’s all good.
Truthfully, I didn’t know much about lent until a few years ago. Don’t judge, but I always thought it was strictly a Catholic thing. I have no idea why I thought that. And, well, I’m not Catholic. And I looked at lent as the Christian new year resolution. “What can I give up in order to show that I love Jesus?”
Oh, Hannah. Smack some sense into yourself.
However, this year my heart felt a tug. I’ve been on a personal journey in this lent season. I felt the Lord saying, “How are you and I going to draw closer to each other?”
And I started going down the list of things I love in order to sacrifice them for Jesus and give them up for lent.
Sugar? Sodas? (hahaha) Facebook? Blogging?
“No, Hannah. I want something deeper with you. More meaningful.” he said.
Deeper than giving up the internet? Geez. But he knows me. He knows that to me, things are just that…things. Things are like small talk. I want to go deeper than small talk to get to the heart.
Then I was talking to a friend and the word “complacent” was used in our conversation. And the word stuck with me. And the next day it wouldn’t leave. And the next day it was like an annoying mosquito bite that wouldn’t stop itching. And the day after that it was the zit that appeared on my face by morning. And the next day and the next day it would not go away.
“Pay attention to that word, Hannah.” he would whisper to my spirit. And when I would put off something I needed to do because I would rather be comfortable, I’d hear “Is this moment of rest a necessity or are you being complacent?”
Complacency is a huge struggle for me. I’m a big dreamer and I’m a visionary, but action is not my spiritual gift.
So instead of giving up an item for lent, I’ve sacrificed complacency.
My first thought was to set goals. “Okay, so what is your goal tomorrow?” I would ask myself at night. But I had to shut that thought down. It’s not about making a goal for each day. It’s not about scratching off my to-do list. This isn’t a task-oriented sacrifice; It’s about waking up each day and saying, “What will you have me do today, Lord?” It’s about taking what’s put in front of me and being obedient.
Because in my life lately, complacency has equaled disobedience.
Complacency in the big parts of life and complacency in the tiny details. That means taking action in major life decisions but also being obedient to do the small tasks required of me. i.e.: choosing to do the dishes before crashing on the couch and watching an episode of Friends. Lately I find that I’m struggling in complacency with the small things in life. Because to be trusted to be a steward of the big dreams in life, we must first be trusted to be a steward of the little details. And I’ve let even the little details slide by…all because of complacency.
This isn’t condemnation. I don’t feel like if I don’t do something, then I’m sinning and have failed the purpose of lent. This isn’t me paying penance or trying to do deeds to get me in with God. No, I accept the grace I’ve been given. This is a journey. This is me listening for instruction on steps to take each day. It has me listening to his voice to overcome my humanness and to draw us into a deeper relationship. It’s relying on his strength to help me do the things that I need help with – the things I don’t want to do, or don’t have the energy for, or that are too big for me, or that intimidate me. And each day, for myself, I’m writing down something I did that negates my complacency. Some days are as small as “I served Aaron today by [fill in the blank].” (I’m not the best at serving) Some days it’s “I prayed for someone’s need in that very moment” (something that usually makes me nervous). Some days it’s “I got our tax stuff together.” (I’ve been putting it off for a long time).
Each thing I write down symbolizes a moment with Jesus and a moment of obedience – no matter how big or small.