My faith community doesn’t really actively participate in the Lenten tradition. Growing up, I thought it was just an awesome weight loss tactic- I mean, if you give up chocolate or soda on your own it’s hard to be accountable but if you give it up for JESUS and you cheat, you’re screwed for sure. Right? I watched kids pass on the cheeseburgers in the cafeteria on Fridays and truly, felt a little left out about the whole thing. Why didn’t we give up anything for Lent?
Lent in a nutshell is practiced in order to honor Christ’s suffering in the wilderness; to better grasp the beauty of resurrection. The idea is to give up something important to you, something that you have allowed to define your person in order to realign yourself with Christ’s story, his suffering, and HIS identity. I have always half-heartedly participated. This year, I am IN IT.
I’ve heard people often muse how, if Jesus is really as good as we say He is, why are all of his followers so miserable? It’s one thing to be unhappy and quite another to be joyless. In fact, if I really believe what I say I do, it is impossible to be joyless. It should be hardwired in our DNA. And yet, I find myself wallowing in anxiety, depression, loneliness, angst, and other turmoil simply because life didn’t turn out as I expected. Where is my Joy? I believe God is good, that He will work through all circumstances for His glory, that I am His, that He will never leave me, that He has a plan for me to prosper and not to harm me, that He means for me to rest, to live in community, to love. But if I were to ask any of my friends what some of my shining attributes are, I know for a fact not one of them would put, “joyful” on the list.
So, I am an active participant in the Lenten tradition this year in order to remember. Who I am in Him, what His promises are and to celebrate His triumphal return.
What am I giving up?
That’s the tricky part.
For the entirety of this season, I am giving up hopelessness. I’m giving up worry. I’m giving up fear. For the next forty days I will wake up every morning, repeating, “Count it all JOY….”
I am embracing Joy today. The only way to do that is to recognize who Christ is and who I am in Him. Every Day.
I’ll be updating here regularly to let you know how it’s going. I’m already positive it’s not going to be easy. I have a list a mile long of things that need to be planned, scheduled, prepared for during the entire month of March into April. It’s enough to make my skin crawl. (Although, I do have a pretty bad viral infection accompanied by a rash, so that might be the cause of the skin crawling thing.) But I am also pretty determined. Christ died so that we might live- and live abundantly. In the peace and glory of His presence, in the knowledge of His saving grace. If I walk with those things every day, it would be impossible to be joyless.
Walk it with me, this year?
Yeah, sure, you can give up Dove’s Ice Cream Bars. Again.
But maybe try something different this year?
Something life giving?
Count it all Joy.