Over the few past years, I have learned to love the annual rhythms of the traditional Christian calendar.Â Not being raised in a faith tradition that valued (or even mentioned) the cycles of seasons such as Advent & Lent, it is refreshing to me to yearly explore these seasons and the themes they represent.Â This Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) marks the start of the Lenten season where participants traditionally choose something to “give up” for the 40 days leading to Easter.Â The intent is to fast from something and in hopes that it’s absence might bring us closer to God and more reflective of the season’s theme’s.
As I have pondered what to “give up” this year for Lent, I am struck with a sense that there’s something more I can give up than caffiene or alcohol.Â I am convinced that there’s something more tragic in my character that must be addressed. It’s my sense of “self”.Â Â If I am honest, much of my existence is about “self-interest, “self- preservation”, and “self-promotion”.Â I think much more highly of myself than I should even often convincing myself that this world needs “me”.Â This sense of self affects my faith, my relationships, and my posture towards those I share life with.
I am sure I am not the only one.
So for this year’s Lent, I am going to experiment with something different.Â Instead of giving up something tangible (like food or drink), I am going to give up “myself” for the 40 days of Lent.Â I want to use the season to probe the dimensions of mny life that I am unwilling to give up, those spaces which I selfishly and stubbornly claim as my own.Â I want to explore the ares of my existence that neglect “the other”, and cling instead to my sense of self.Â To balance this, I will spend the Sundays of Lent breaking this fast to rest in the identity of self that God validates in me – that I am valued, that I am His creation, and that I am loved deeply.Â The culmination of the season in Easter will bring me to the celebration of a new self that identifies with the resurrection.
I would love to share in this experience with some others who are brave enough to try this with me.Â As I’ve shared this tought with some others, the quick response is typically, “What would it look like to “give up yourself”?”.Â I am hesitant to answer this question as I imagine (and am hopeful) that it will look very different for each participant.Â If you’d like to journey through this with me a small group of others, drop a comment below.
This idea can’t be any worse than this one 🙂