I did not grow up in a particularly religious home. Most of my religious exposure came from watching mass on the TV with my grandma and going to Wednesday night church with friends. I never really learned religious traditions or dogma. I eventually became an ardent atheist and moved away from anything religious in every way. After about 6 years as an atheist, I became a Christian. That journey is a long story which I may share another day. On this day, I simply want to share with you why and how I observe Lent.
I decided to celebrate Lent after realizing that I was not allowing Easter to be everything it needed to be in my life. Easter Sunday was my favorite holiday and it meant so very much to me, but as I started to see others around me celebrate the Easter season, I realized I was missing something.
In case you do not know, Lent is the 40 days before Easter Sunday (not counting Sundays) in which many Christians prepare for Easter by fasting, repenting, and practicing moderation and spiritual discipline. This is done to focus one’s attention on Jesus and His suffering, sacrifice, life, death, burial, and resurrection. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter morning. To some it may seem like legalism or self-induced misery, but I have found Lent to be spiritually invigorating and life-changing.
Because I am a non-denominational Christian, I do not know all the rules the various denominations require for Lent. I do not believe Lent is required by God or the Bible, I simply observe Lent as a way to grow closer to God and prepare for Easter. I usually give up two to three things that I think have become strongholds in my life. In past years I have given up sugar, soda, chocolate, candy, baked goods, TV, social media, and eating out. Those are all things that I turned to in times of need (instead of to God) or that I had a hard time giving up. Fasting from these things is difficult and whenever I start to feel sorry for myself or feel like I am suffering, I remember Jesus and what he did for me. I also often add things to my daily routine for Lent such as a devotional, study, or just praying more.
In my experience, Lent helps me grow closer to God, overcome strongholds, and experience an amazing Easter season. Lent helps me grow new life in place of the old. It keeps my faith alive and vibrant and refocuses my commitment to god.
Do you observe Lent? Why or why not? What do you think about Lent? What kinds of things have you fasted from in the past? Feel free to leave a comment. Share and let’s talk about it.