Lent is all about reflections. Reflecting on the sacrificial sort of love that is supposed to be at the center of Christianity. How have we shown that love to one another, to God? How can we better show that love in this next year, but especially during the lenten season. Lent is penitential. We are penitent for the things that we fall short in, the areas that we mess up, the actions we could have done better or the words that we could have said differently.
Love one another, that is one of the greatest commandments. Notice how I haven’t mentioned giving up something in penitence? I do not fault those that give up sweets, or alcohol, or any other tangible, material thing. However, I do think its just as helpful to reflect on the why’s for giving something up as the actual giving up of the thing. Why give some “thing” up for Lent? Thing being the key word here. We are shedding this thing in penitence. Penitence for what? For what we have done and what we have left undone. I fail to see how giving up chocolate will help is to be better people or better Christians or to love God anymore. We give things up to remember the sacrifice of Christ and our own failings in falling short of the more decent, loving human beings that we could be.
In light of that, for just a few minutes, consider giving up something less tangible. Give up your prejudices, give up your insecurities, give up a worry, give up some problem to God or to the universe or to whatever you believe. All of those negative feelings and things separate us from loving one another or loving God. Pick one of those things to give up during this lenten season. Perhaps in addition to Hershey bars if you still need to give up something tangible.
I’m going to make a better effort to give away anxiety during Lent. Perhaps that will help me to be a more loving and compassionate person. I have a hard time with anxiety. I worry about everything. And sometimes everyone. Will my bills all get paid? Will Steven eat enough when he is away? Will the dogs get to play outside enough today? Will this three year old I am working with today grow up with a skewed perception of herself because of something I might have accidentally said or done? Did I say the right thing to this parent or that one? Did I handle my coworker well? I worry. It is in my nature. I don’t talk about my worry, but I do it. Today I am going to try to do that a little bit less and perhaps I can be a better friend, a better neighbor because of it.