For Lent, I’m giving up complaining.
Not about the political order. When that is not working, we have to raise our voices.
Instead, I’m talking about things such as, “This isn’t hot enough for me.” “Why have they moved everything around in this store?! I can’t find my precious bottle of dish detergent!” “That person is a true jerk to me, and I don’t like them.” See the common thread here? Complaining often leads us to place an unhealthy emphasis on “me.” And that is pride. And pride is the root of most if not all sin. So if I want to give up sin, which should a 24/7/365 endeavor, then I must give up pride. And to give up pride, I have to give up the things that tend me toward pride.
Let’s face it: Anyone can give up chocolate/candy. Or coffee. Or salt. Or something that isn’t a sacrifice at all, the functional equivalent of, “I’m giving up putting ants on my doughnut.” It’s not something normally done anyway, so it’s sort of a hollow sacrifice, isn’t it?
Lent is about more than the hollow. It is about metanoia, a big Greek word that means, to turn around. To convert, in other words. It’s about giving up sin: gossiping (i.e., character assassination/murder), treating people as objects/using them, being less angry/more loving, sacrificing for others rather than putting oneself first, etc. That’s tough. That’s not a 40 day journey. It’s a lifelong one.
But that’s the road less traveled that is more worth taking, don’t you agree? That’s why I want my Lent to be about more than just patting myself on the back and saying, “You know something? I did it! I made it through a whole 40 days without once doing XYZ.”
That totally misses the point. That becomes like, “I want to shave an extra minute off my time in the 10K” or “I want to lose an extra pound in the next two weeks.” It’s an entire focus on self that ultimately only benefits self.
Don’t get me wrong: Becoming more healthy, etc., are great things! We should do what it takes to get there.
But Lent strikes me as being about something more than conquering that personal mountain. It’s about conforming oneself more closely to the pinnacle of all mountains, if you will, of all creation, the Creator, Jesus Christ. That isn’t a personal accomplishment, focused on “me.” That’s a journey aimed at a Person, the end each of us has (whether we understand or want to admit it), to know, love, and serve God in this life, and to be happy with Him in the next.
Nothing short of that perfect conformity, that yoking oneself to the Messiah can or will provide ultimate happiness.
There’s so much that can be said on this topic. It’s literally inexhaustible, unfathomable (in the sense that its depths can never be fully fathomed/reached/etc.). Hopefully this suffices for now.