Happy Lent, everyone! For all of you who are observing it, stick in there – it WILL be worth it! For those of you who aren’t, have fun watching us for the next 40 days.
For those of you who aren’t of the Christian persuasion, I guess I should probably tell you about Lent.
“Ok, Google – cheat for me:”
Lent is a 40-day period of preparation for Easter Sunday and one of the major liturgical seasons of the Church. A penitential season marked by prayer, fasting and abstinence, and almsgiving, Lent begins on either Ash Wednesday (for Latin Rite Catholics and those Protestants who observe Lent) or Clean Monday (for Eastern Rite Catholics and Eastern Orthodox) and ends on either Holy Thursday or Holy Saturday.
Lent comes in many different forms. Some people give up food as a community, some people fast (or give up) things they feel like they’re placing before their spiritual lives (maybe you’ve seen some people bowing off social media) and others do none of the above. Like me.
To clarify – yes, I am fasting. But this year I felt like I needed to do something a little different.
Enter dramatic pause
So, I’ve decided to do a 40 day negativity fast (#notreallyworthadramaticpause).
Rather than Googling what this “means” I’ll tell you what it means to me.
The Bible has a lot to say about how Christians interact with the world around them. There are verses about loving, about caring, about serving – and then the ones we’re not quite as eager to discuss: The ones about turning the other cheek.
This is not a green light for people to come and punch me in the face, because for the next 40 days I won’t punch you back. I will punch you back.
What I’m talking about is on a spiritual level.
See, I’m a fighter by nature.
When I was little, more than anything, I wanted to be an Amazon woman (thanks for the documentary, PBS). I wanted to fight in battles, and conquer kingdoms and learn epic archery skills (the last of which I did start). I wanted to fight. I’ve always wanted to fight.
And it took me a really long time, as Christian, to realize that’s okay.
I think a common misconception about Christianity is that women are supposed to be these meek and gentle creatures sitting in the corner knitting.
And while I do knit, and I love its cathartic values, that’s not my idea of the life of faith for a woman.
NOTE: Being meek, gentle and sweet are NOT bad things, for those who are naturally that way.
But I’m not.
I’ve always preferred to think of myself as someone who follows more the example of the biblical Deborah. For those of you who don’t know the story, think badass awesome chick who leads armies and generally dominates at life, because men aren’t stepping up to the plate. (Judges 4)
But something to remember, even for us fighters, is that there are times when you need to find peace in the uncomfortable places or times God calls you to. Sometimes, we reach a season of needing to learn trust.
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
A great, totally hypothetical, example of this is when you’re, I don’t know – living in a foreign place, and being COMPLETELY out of your comfort zone. Exhibit A: My life.
For me, natural instinct says to kick and scream and punch people (metaphorically) – but God tells me to rest.
So I sit.
*For the record, sitting in a corner complaining isn’t finding rest in a situation.
France has been hard, harder than I ever could have imagined. But it’s in this place that God has told me, for now, to rest. And over the past few months I have been doing the very minimal value of that.
More than anything I’ve been complaining, I’ve been self-pitying and I’ve been finding every excuse to sit on my bible, rather than read it. Because, hey – I’ve been through a lot (factual). I deserve to be able to curl up in a ball and listen to angsty music!
But if God wanted me to listen to angsty music for a year, I think he would have given me a time machine back to my high school self, not told me to move 5000 miles away from home.
So, with this in mind, I’ve decided to dedicate my Lent period of time to fixing the deep seeded problem that has become my perspective on my life.
Where there is self-pity, I will look to serve others.
Where there is anger, I’m seeking peace and self-reconciliation.
When I want to outwardly project my fears and insecurities, I will take them instead, and leave them at the feet of my Saviour.
Where there is doubt, I’m remembering the promises that brought me to this place.
And where there is winey-ass (sorry mom) me, I will remember that there is purpose to every breath I am given.
Lent started on Wednesday, so I’m only a few days in, but I can already tell you one thing – it IS NOT easy. Human nature wants to complain. Why? Because, to be honest, it feels good. And it’s societally acceptable. Just look at how many social media outlets we’re given to FML our lives.
But my challenge, over the next month is to remember where I came from, and who fought on my behalf to bring me here.
It wasn’t by accident that I landed in Paris for a year – no one accidently lands in Paris for a year. This year was a pretty hefty detour from what I had “planned”, but that doesn’t mean I’m not on the path I’m supposed to be on.
So, join me, will you? Let’s strive to look at our lives and the world around us with a different lens. Let’s begin to uncover and unmask the places in our hearts that have brought us into areas of complaint, instead of action. And most of all – let’s fight a good fight.