Two Journeys of Lent
I never kept Lent as a child. We grew up in a Christian tradition that did not keep the seasons of the church. So I began experiencing Lent as an adult who had graduated seminary. It didn’t take long for Lent to become both my favorite and most disliked season in the church’s calendar. I loved it because a misunderstanding of Lent permitted me to indulge my inner Pharisee, promoting my own personal misery as a high expression of piety. I disliked Lent because after about two weeks of that misery, I was, well, miserable! I really did not understand Lent very well back then. And I think a lot of people misunderstand Lent today, a season of self-reflection and repentance designed to bring us closer to the God we love prior to celebrating Easter.
You may be stuck on how to participate in Lent, so allow me to suggest two potential journeys, depending on your season of life right now.
First, if you are aware that you are genuinely losing the battle with pride in yourself, allow Lent to break you of that pride. For you, Lent is a time to admit that you are not a big deal. All your achievements, things you are love to be smug about and the ways you privately diminish others are fuel for your distance from Our Loving God. Let the Holy Spirit show you how to be broken during this season. God will be there for you.
Secondly, if you are aware that you already feel as low as a discarded cigarette butt and you are wondering if you are even worth saving, Lent is about restoration for you. It is about the promise of reconciliation. Yes, you may have done some things that are sinful and you know it. God does too. And that same God that knows it… He desires restoration, but on His terms. And His terms begin with repentance and get better from there. In this season, God will be there for you.
There are many good ways to keep a Holy Lent. I offer these two as a guide to you and as a hope for your soul, whatever season you may be in this year. May God bless you in your journey.