One of the definitions of the word lent according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary means to put at another’s temporary disposal something they can use. Of course, the main definition for lent, the noun, is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting. But, even though these two definitions aren’t the same, I see a connection between them that I hadn’t thought about before. If we truly enter into this season to prepare ourselves for the coming of Easter, we work to put our own needs and desires aside in order to be more open to God’s call within our life. In other words, we have “lent” ourselves to God to use us as He wills. That to me, has a much deeper meaning and calls more from me than the usual “giving something up”.
Yesterday on Facebook, friends were posting left and right that they were “giving” up Facebook for Lent. Now, by itself, that can be a good thing if one uses the time one saves to do something else to bring them closer to God. But, if you give up Facebook only to play games on the computer or watch TV instead, how is that a sacrifice? The other question I have with these posts is that Scripture tells us that Jesus told his disciples to “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them”. To me this means that we shouldn’t be broadcasting our lenten sacrifices to everyone everywhere. Instead, by our actions (whatever that ends up being), others should be able to see by our actions and by our attitudes (not by our words or by us drawing attention to our actions) that we are indeed closer to Christ than before. This, to me, is the goal.
Now, I don’t have a problem sharing what I will be doing for my own sacrifices during lent to those I am close to as I am not boasting of my tremendous “feats”, but because I am counting on them to help me in this not so easy task of denying myself and putting aside for a period of time my own vanity and selfishness. As much as I would like to say that doing these things is a piece of cake, the reality is that it is anything but easy. I know, more than anyone else, my weaknesses.
So, no, I am not sharing the “what” of my lenten sacrifices, but I do hope that I will be sharing the fruit of those sacrifices. If that happens, then I will know that my small feable attempts have been accepted by God and that I was successful. What more can I ask?