Welcome to Lent
I've heard a lot of things as we've prepared for Lent and as I've voiced my intent to live vegan for 40 days.
I've had conversations with people who are Christian and celebrate Lent, who are Christian and do not celebrate the season, and who are not Christian at all and wondered what it was all about.
Some people I spoke to were giving up something, whether that be Facebook, a favorite food, or a bad habit.
Other people I spoke to were choosing an intention of more prayer, more devotion or some other positive action in their life.
I heard a lot of cynicism or judgment as I observed conversations. I heard people say that Lent shouldn't be about giving something seemingly trivial up but doing something positive.
I heard people ask when Lent became the latest diet program.
I heard people wonder what the point is of people engaging in a Lenten sacrifice just because they were taught to do so and not because they were called by God.
I heard people ask if what others were choosing to sacrifice was really getting in the way of their relationship with God or if it was something they chose for their own purposes.
I watched as people from varied walks of life looked at Lent as another New Year's resolution, or another thing gone so commercial and taken so out of context that it just wasn't worth it.
If you remember my rant about Valentine's Day, you know I just don't buy that as a reason to disregard a practice, let alone a season of the church that inspires us to engage in spiritual discipline.
It doesn't matter what anyone else chooses to do with the practice, although I do reach out to my communities in support for those who are engaging in a discipline.
It is not for me to judge whether someone's way of observing the liturgical season is appropriate, fruitful, guided by God or anything else. It is not for me to try to say what someone else might get out of their practice.
Growing up, we didn't give things up for Lent. I recall it being a Catholic thing that many of the kids at school did, but my family didn't.
We were Lutheran.
Then sometime in junior high or high school, I remember learning about Lent and the idea of a Lenten discipline that didn't have to be giving up candy, but instead was a practice that was meant to bring us closer to God, quiet us and prepare us as we get ready for Good Friday and its important events.
I became rather insistent about the fact that I didn't give up petty things for Lent but instead committed to a special time of devotion and prayer with God during those 40 days.
To be honest, I felt my practice was better than those of people who just mindlessly gave things up.
Now, many years later, God has brought me to the spiritual discipline of fasting. Fasting can be from food, from a specific type of food or from something else like Facebook, technology, television or whatever else.
We can fast from anything.
Many people choose to fast when they find that something is getting in the way of their relationship with God.
The intent in these situations is to use the time that one might spend on the computer, for instance, with God instead. Other people choose to fast from something as a form of dedication and sacrifice to God.
I am living vegan for 40 days, not because my consumption of meat and dairy specifically gets in the way of my relationship with God.
I am getting back to the basics in the way that I nourish my body as well as my soul.
For me, Lent is not about giving up a bad habit, and believe me I have plenty of them. It's not about losing weight or going on a God-sanctioned diet.
I am entering into this fast as a type of spiritual exercise, strengthening my physical body with a cleansing lifestyle while strengthening my awareness of my dependency on God.
When I struggle, as I know I will, I will go to God. I will start my days in prayer, giving thanks, setting my intentions for the day and remembering this journey is to the most amazing place we could ever go.
This journey goes first to the foot of the cross where we receive the biggest gift we could ever receive and then to the empty tomb where we witness the greatest miracle we could ever witness.
My Lenten journey will center around fasting, prayer and alms-giving.
I will eat vegan, fasting from all animal products in an effort to cleanse my body and soul.
I will pray often, both routinely each morning, but also at every moment that I hunger for the foods I have given up and struggle with temptation.
I will focus on both my ability to do anything with God and my inability to do anything without God. And I will give of myself, to my family specifically, striving to connect daily in a meaningful way with my husband and children and fill our home with positive energy and joy.
I enter into this journey with a great sense of peace quieting my fears. I invite you to join me along the way. How are you choosing to honor the season of Lent? How can I support you in your journey?
Originally posted March 9, 2011, at I’m Totally That Mom. Republished with permission of the author. Find a link to Jamie Bruesehoff’s blog I’m Totally That Mom at Lutheran Blogs.