Definition: the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting — Merriam-Webster
Most people during Lent “give up” something they know they over-indulge in. For example, last year I gave up sweets/desserts. I know people who have given up stuff like video games and social media. I’ve even had a friend give up her phone apps for those 40 days.
Why do we do these things?
Is it out of tradition or obligation?
What kind of thoughts go into such a decision?
The point of Lent is not to stop a bad habit. It may end up being an effect of it, but that shouldn’t be our top priority in the decision of “giving something up.” I say “our” because that was my way of thinking last year. I considered how I could benefit from this fasting–just me, and no one else. I didn’t understand the true meaning of Lent.
Then, what is Lent?
Like the definition states above, Lent includes fasting and penitence. “Fasting,” although typically thought of with food, is ceasing an activity done regularly (probably more than once a day) in order to spend more time intimately with the Lord. The idea is to spend time with God whenever we feel the need to consume what we are fasting from. In the example of food, whenever we crave sustenance, we feed our spiritual hunger with the Word of God instead of our physical hunger with food.
(Penitence is feeling sorrow or regret for something that has been done wrong. So, admitting to God that we’ve fallen short of perfection, which let’s face it, happens a lot more than we want it to.)
Lent is a time where we commemorate all God has done for us through Jesus, with the choice to fast from something that would have an impact on our walk with Him (a great place to find something for each day, and for the rest of our lives, is in this 40 Things to Give up for Lent). In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting in the desert, spending a significant amount of intimate quality time with his Father. He was still tempted by Satan, but was able to resist such temptation.
When we spend more time with God, the odds of us being spiritually attacked by Satan are higher; our lives won’t be all peachy-keen. Jesus was perfect, yet he was still attacked and tempted while he was physically weak. He required the Lord’s strength to get him through, just like we would. He was human, like us.
This is what Lent is all about: building such a relationship with God that we can trust Him to get us through anything. Any amount of trust, for any relationship, requires quality time to get to know one another. We can spend such time with God through activities such as reading the Bible, praying, worship, or even just journaling our thoughts into a notebook.
For me, I’ve decided to give up Facebook this year for the Lent season. Any spare time I’ve had recently has been given to this social media website, and I figure, if I have time to spend on Facebook, I have time to spend with my Heavenly Father. So to get closer to Him, this is what I will be giving up.
My goal is to read a Bible verse every time I’m tempted to open Facebook and just scroll (and believe me, that’s often). I’ll probably even work on memorizing a few.
My question for you, dear friends, is this: what will you give up for Lent this year?