Giving Up the Need to Give Up for Lent

Growing up as a member of the Apostolic faith, the idea of honoring Lent is a fairly new tradition in my life. Members of my denomination tend to focus more on the Resurrection and Pentecost and spend less time focusing on the period leading up to Easter Sunday. As I was exposed to friends from different walks of life, I thought that Lent was cool and I was very intrigued by the idea of giving up something for 40 days as a sacrifice to God.

The first few years I gave up nominal things like TV, social media, and reading trashy, 90s, African American street lit (don’t judge me!). And then there was the year my friend Jessica and I gave up sugar. I’m still not sure how she convinced me to do that, but I DO remember celebrating the end of Lent with a whole sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies!

Then about three years ago, Jessica, my friend Adriane, and I were having a discussion about our Lenten plans for that year.  I think Jessica was trying to convince me to do Sugar Free for Jesus, Part II when Adriane proposed an interesting idea for Lent that has stuck with me ever since.

Instead of giving up something for Lent, Adriane shared that she engaged in the practice of TAKING ON something for Lent that would have an impact on her faith and increase her walk with Christ. What a BRILLIANT idea! Instead of focusing on the arduous task of giving up something that I probably wouldn’t stick to anyway (‘cuz let me tell you TV Free for Lent 2003 lasted all of 8 days!), instead what could I TAKE ON with JOY for the next 40 days?

The idea of TAKING ON something that I would look forward to really helped me view Lent differently. I no longer looked at this time of reflection as a tortuous time of “I can’t.” I now saw it as opportunity to ask, “What more can I do for Christ?” Last year, I took on reading all four of The Gospels during my morning mediation time and what an AMAZING experience that was for me.

This year, I am committing to TAKING ON re-reading The Gospels, carving out 40 minutes of quiet time each evening and focusing on a beautiful set of Lenten meditations provided by my church, and writing 40 new personal reflections and blog posts before Easter. Ambitious, yes, but I believe TAKING ON reflecting on Christ’s journey to the Cross, engaging in thoughtful silence, and writing with a purpose will help me to see myself and my relationship with Christ in a new way.    

Giving up things for Lent certainly has its merits; but I’d rather TAKE ON something for a Savior who so selflessly TOOK ON the pain of the Cross for me. 

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