I grew up in a tradition that didn’t practice Lent, and to my recollection never even mentioned it. But I’ve always been an avid student of world religion, so I discovered Lent on my own and immediately fell in love with the practice. For a few years during my pre-teen and teen years, I was a practicing Muslim. I always loved the month of Ramadan, because it was such an amazing time of spiritual renewal both individually and for the community. The Muslim faith brought so much balance to my life, and at that time I (wrongly) resented the fact that the faith I was born into – Christianity – did not have any tangible spiritual practices like Salat and Ramadan. At the time that I discovered Lent, I was not a Christian, but my respect for the Christian faith grew upon learning that something like Ramadan existed in Christendom. When I eventually returned to faith in Christ, I knew Lent was going to be something that I would want to make part of my spiritual life.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit of a spiritual eclectic. Okay, I am a lot of a spiritual eclectic. Sometimes I half-jokingly refer to myself as “multi-faith.” I can’t deny the profound impact that other faith traditions have had on my spiritual growth. And I can’t deny the fact that I have heard and do hear God speak to me through the framework of other religions. Still, I want Jesus to be the head of my spiritual life. I want Him to come first.
One of the things that I am guilty of is getting carried away in spending time with other faith traditions and forget to put as much energy into spending time with Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that religious literacy is essential, and since God cannot be placed in these boxes that we make for Him, I think we should be able to be open to hearing from Him in all sorts of places and situations, but I also think that if I want to keep Christ first – I have to keep Christ first.
I don’t push Jesus aside on purpose, but I think sometimes that since I connect with Him in a variety of ways, I don’t always make it a priority to read the Bible or spend direct, intentional time with Him.
I know that for Lent, the idea is to make a sacrifice by giving up something that is important to you and filling the void created with more spiritually beneficial activities. But I can’t think of anything that I am so attached to that it would be hard for me to give up – or would create a void in my life. So, instead of giving something up, I’m going to commit to doing a better job at spending more time with Christ. It’s been a very busy few years – moving from one state to another, and then moving 3 times within the new state, having a baby, being in the hospital with blood clot issues, trying to make new friends, being a working mom – and it’s been a while since I’ve had enough time to commit to any of the things (outside of my family) that are important to me.
Now that I’m going to be staying home, intentional time with God is one of the things that I hope to be able to reclaim. I guess, in a sense, it’s giving up the time I would be spending doing something else, and making sure I spend that time with God instead.
What are you giving up for Lent? If you’re unsure of what to give up for Lent this year, think about joining me in committing to doing something that you should be doing more of – but just aren’t. In any case, I hope you have an amazing Lenten season, if you’re into that sort of thing.