We are well into the Lenten season now, and it's interesting to watch what people are "giving up" for these forty days. Even many of my non-religious friends participate in Lent, which I guess makes it more of the new New Year's.
I am not one to normally participate in this holiday. I didn't grow up with a religious tradition, and it's not part of the one I am in now. But this season, I have had a hunger on my heart for a few things, so I am taking this time to reboot. Forty days, maybe. Maybe less. Maybe more.
And can I tell you? I don't think we do Lent right.
I think we've made it too much about giving up when it ought to be about giving over. We've made it about willpower when it's really about surrendering our will. When I ask people why they've given up this or that, the answer is always "Because I should" or "To see if I can." And then inevitably, the countdown starts to when they don't have to give it up any more. To when they can finally have that prized possession again, after earning a new trophy in, "I did it."
Is that really what Lent is? Maybe it is. Like I said - it's not part of my tradition. But when I'm given the chance to change something powerful in my life, given the opportunity to break the hold that something might have on me, I want to go all-out. I want to go no-holds-barred. I want to go all-in and do it without putting a time limit on it. I don't want to say, "I'm not doing this until Easter." I want instead to say, "I'm walking out of the grave on this one."
So I started this Lenten season with an "I'm not gonna" but that lasted less than a day. Because I'm not gonna is very, very hard and if it's anything worthwhile, there will be tons of coincidental resistance that will ensure you have to punish yourself to the extreme or fail miserably, and I'm not into that. After that first day, I changed my mindset. Instead of I'm not gonna, I asked myself what I really want. When I figured that out, I decided to go after it.
This season, there is a small icon of a photo on my normally-clear desktop. It's a picture I found that reminds me what I want. When I pasted it onto my desktop as a reminder of what matters to me, of what I'm going after this season, I retitled it simply "THIS." Every day when I'm working on my computer, I am reminded of THIS. and what it is and by the simple picture alone, where it comes from.
And it comes from giving myself over and giving IT up, not giving up or giving in. THIS. is not something I'm going to stop doing. THIS. is something I am becoming, by the grace of God, and it's easy to forget some days what the becoming is like. But THIS. reminds me what THIS. is. I'm going after it.
It may take me forty days. It may take less. It may take more. So this isn't Lent. This is just a season. A season of renewal - with spring on the horizon and Easter just days away - that I am taking advantage of to make some much-needed changes in my heart. I haven't entered this season to come out the same way I was before I went in; I want to be remade. I want to be reborn. By the grace of God, He and I will walk out of that grave together.