Lent Is An Opening, Not Simply Abstaining

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So, in times past I have “celebrated” Lent, intermittently over the years, but my focus had always been about merely giving something up. It felt… miserly. It never really had been presented to me (nor had it occurred to me) that it was not really just a time of self-deprivation, of simply giving something up, but is more a time of opening up and receiving MORE.

Last year, I found this beautiful post by a fellow Restorative Exercise Specialist-in-training, Katy. It was the first time I’d come to the idea of not giving up some physical thing, an item. My heart was woo’d in that short article, glimpsing in to something deeper than merely giving up some luxury item for 40 days.

Later, I came to a different article, that I can no longer seem to find, but it presented the notion that Lent is a reminder to us that in Christ’s fasting, we do not just see Him giving things up and sacrificing food, we also see Him taking on challenges and opening up to God’s will in a very different way than He does most of His ministry on earth.

Sometime between last year’s Lent and this years, Lent became about realizing sacrifice really isn’t a withholding. Sacrifice is an opening – an invitation for more than we can imagine without that sacrifice. This has transformed every sacrifice I’ve seen someone make, in my own mind. It is not, at the heart, a giving up, but a widening. Karen Ehman wrote about this to a smaller degree than the article I am thinking of, but I still love this heart: The Reverse Lent Challenge.

I have several different things I am doing this Lenten season. I hesitate to say them, if I “fail” at going 40 days, but that is actually something I am making a part of my Lenten giving up: criticism. Giving up criticism opens me up to unconditional love and acceptance – to receive grace (Releasing Emotional Patterns with Essential Oils and Feelings: Buried Alive, Never Die are both excellent resources for understanding this!. Which means I can be okay with sharing my stumbles and forgetting things over a 40 day period.

First, I am going to make a Lenten calendar, as a celebration of what giving up really means – beauty.

Right now, a huge time-suck for myself and my children is technology. Television for them and internet for me. Shifting away from “device” is not merely to abstain, but to open up to so much more in our lives. So, my biggest physical “giving up” is televison and internet. We’re putting holds on Netflix and Hulu, freezing our internet service, and in these things place, spending more time outdoors, making handicrafts for others, and enjoying time reading and cooking together. Being with others.

Daryl, hearing me hash all of this out, started thinking quietly to himself. The following day, he said, “I was thinking about what you said, about giving something up actually leading to opening to better things. I want to give up overtime for Lent.” {stomach punch} To myself: you mean the thing that helps us make it paycheck to paycheck? 8 hours a week for meeting our bill needs and lately  another 8 to pay for extra like internet, school books (not really extras, but yet it is) and my certification week coming up.
What an encouragement from my husband, though. Trusting God will provide while Daryl spends more time over the next 40 days with us and with our community.

Not only am I putting our tv away for Lent, I am pulling specific books in for our family, incorporating/encouraging a blend of fun activities, rich activities, and quieting activities.

My heart is open and ready, preparing for renewal.
Do you do something to celebrate Lent? How have you viewed the Lenten season over your life?

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