“Empty yourself and let God fill you.” – Unknown
“God prunes us when He is about to take us into a new season of growth and expansion.” – Christine Caine
“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” – Joel 2:12
Or as a pastor at the Ash Wednesday service I attended put it, “Lent is the time to uncover all the lint you’ve stored up in your belly button.”
Lent, as with most seasons, brings up different practices and feelings for everyone. For some it’s obligatory – they feel they have to fast to follow their religion. A few use it as an excuse to finally give up sweets or alcohol as they had intended to with their New Year’s resolutions. For others, it’s the time of year where they go to church twice a week. For some of my non-Christian friends it’s time to sarcastically question me, “why would your God make you give something like chocolate up?”
In observing various versions of Lent, two things are clear. One: Lent is a time that is set apart. And two, it loses its meaning and original purpose when it’s done without real reflection.
Maybe giving something up for 40 days isn’t for you as it puts your focus on how much you want that thing, rather than how much you’re seeking God. Or maybe it’s not for you because it feels inauthentic as people trumpet how much they’re sacrificing. Perhaps going to church on a Wednesday frustrates you even more, so you’re focused on your “things I’d rather be doing” list more so than God.
This is not me encouraging you to give up on rituals that don’t sound appealing. Sometimes when you give them a shot (or more than one shot) and try out a different mindset, these practices can become meaningful to you as well.
This is me encouraging you to dive deeper during this season. It’s a time to dig for that lint in your belly button. Time to finally examine those buried thoughts or feelings that pull you from your faith. God is calling you to let go of things in order to make space for Him.
This year I was lucky enough to find a practice that works for me. The Liturgist are releasing a daily reading and meditation of sorts. Rather than simply reading and reflecting on a passage whenever you remember to, the idea here is that you take time each morning (7 minutes is all, don’t worry) and you listen to them read scripture. They do a wonderful job of emphasizing that this is between you and God. Have doubt or confusion about the scripture and how it applies to your life? Now is the time to talk to God about that.
Let me know if you end up trying this!