Catholics and Christians are not the only people who participate in Lent. Neither are the fad followers on social networks because Lent is the in-thing to do. I was once a Catholic schoolgirl and I still participate. It is a period of 40 days devoted to fasting and abstinence. People typically "give up" things they are attached to. Last year, I gave up specific items for Lent. This year, I took a more mature approach.
While reading Jen Hatmaker's 7, I considered three questions when trying to determine what to "give up" for Lent.
- What in my life, if taken away, would alter my value or identity?
- What causes an unhealthy change of attitude, personality, or focus when "it" becomes threatened?
- What is the thing outside of God that you put everything else on hold for?
My first thought was food. Seriously, I am most happy when food is in my mouth. No joke. It comforts me. It soothes me. It fulfills me. But I gave up certain foods last Lent. My second thought was liquid crack, Pepsi. But I gave Pepsi up last Lent. And besides, I just purchased a 12-pack. That certainly can't sit in my fridge untouched for 40 whole days. My third thought was books. But that would mean giving up spiritual and Bible study books that I read along with fiction. Plus I have book review and manuscript commitments. For a split second, I thought about joining Chickadee with Daniel's Fast. A split second! See where this is going? At this rate, I would be skipping Lent 2012. So I thought about it on a broader scale.
"Need" and "want" are not interchangeable. Americans tend to forget this. I personally have a bad habit of justifying purchases based on what I "want" instead of "need." Another question proposed in 7 really got me to thinking. "Would Jesus overindulge on garbage food while climbing out of a debt hole from buying things He couldn't afford to keep up with neighbors He couldn't impress?"
My Lent 2012: No excess. No overindulgence. No irresponsible spending.
I will only purchase what I need, not want. I will use items I already have instead of spending money on more, more, and more. I will still eat chicken, but it doesn't have to be fried and smothered in gravy. I will still drink Pepsi, but not my usual 12 oz. can per day. I will still read books, but only from my public library or my To Be Read pile. No sense in purchasing new books while I already have tons to read already. Sorry Amazon Wish List, you're being put on hold. I will still wear makeup, but crack open the new items I have yet to wear rather than splurging on sale items from Ulta and Sephora. Instead of grabbing food from fast food joints, I will cook the food already in my kitchen. No more handing my debit card over for that cute new pair of jeans when I have stacks of unworn jeans in my closet. And this hurts my heart, but no purchasing boots when I already own pairs that my pretty little feet have yet to step into.
"I will reduce, so He can increase." ~ Jen Hatmaker
I will also "Pause & Pray." My mind is in rotation 25/8. I rarely take a moment to just pause and meditate. Take a quiet breath. So I will make a conscious effort to pause during random moments of my day to pray.