The Lent season started last week, its hard to believe we’re thinking about Easter already, but before the Resurrection is the Crucifixion. I’ve heard the Lent season described many ways, however I love the simple reminder that “Sunday is coming”.
Matt and I have done some sort of Lent fast the past few years, which I’ve always enjoyed. While it is traditionally a more Catholic ritual, we know many Christians who adopt the idea of a fast so that they are continually reminded of Christ’s suffering and death, which is a major reason why we choose to participate.
As timing would have it, the small group I’m in at church finished the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker just before Lent started. Are you familiar with it? We read it quickly, and for the most part enjoyed it, but let me give the basic premise and then I’ll connect it back to Lent. 7 is an experiment in the “fight against excess”. The author chooses seven areas of her life in which she sees there is needless excess and commits to seven months pursuing each area individually to “make room for Jesus”. The areas she selects are food, clothing, possessions, media, waste, spending, and stress. For each month/area she determines how or what she’ll reduce in her life and provides a journal style glimpse into her thoughts, growth, fears, and challenges. It was an entertaining if not somewhat scattered read, and very much got me thinking about areas of excess in my own life.
My take on the book as a whole was to really consider “how am I filling my time/energy/resources in ways that aren’t truly fulfilling or honoring to God.” The author says that “If a fast doesn’t include any sacrifices, then it’s not a fast. The discomfort is where the magic happens…Jesus gets a fresh platform in the empty space where indulgence resided”. I loved this quote because Lent should include a sacrifice, discomfort, and the removal of indulgence.
So, my Lent fast this year is very intentional and focused in trying to make space for God to work in my life, increase my dependence on Him, and to help me remember the Crucifixion and sacrifice of Jesus. I’ve adapted the challenge from 7 to my own personal areas of excess but condensed it timing-wise to be during the fast of Lent.
Food: no desserts. Caveat: I can put sugar in my coffee and I’ve allowed myself a protein bar in the cases of needing an immediate snack and/or travel; neither are allowed after consuming a meal.
Clothing: Jen wears only 7 pieces of clothing for a whole month and while I admire her, that’s pretty much where I’m at anyway what with this growing belly and limited wardrobe. I gave up wearing makeup.
Possessions: We have several bags/boxes waiting to go to Goodwill or be given to a friend in need. Before Easter, they WILL be donated or given away. I’m also doing my deep/spring cleaning and as I go, I’m adding to what I’ve already collected.
Media: Limited social media. Limited because I do use it to communicate with several groups on a weekly basis, so my parameters are that 1) must be after Eva has gone to bed for the day and 2) must set a 7 minute timer.
Waste: Being intentional with meal planning/prep so that less food is wasted or thrown out.
Spending: It is extremely tempting for me if I’ve had a particularly difficult day physically or taking care of Eva to suggest we go out to eat for dinner. It’s unnecessary spending that I easily justify, thus, no suggestions of going out to eat will be coming from me.
Stress: The author takes seven pauses throughout the day to pray; I’m choosing to mediate for 5-15 minutes at the end of each day.
While it’s been a little over a week since Lent started, I’m hopeful and prayerful that the Lord will work in these areas; some have already been SO challenging for me (hello, wanting to eat ice cream and being self-conscious about not wearing makeup), but I’m so excited to see how God moves.
Did you make a Lent sacrifice this year?