To be totally upfront with you, I have not celebrated Lent since high school. At that point, I also would not have called it a celebration. More like a nightmare. No dessert for 40 days. No treats. Just an exercise in will power.
It is that view of the spiritual life that caused me to abandon church during the college years when my girlfriend and I were out of the watchful eyes of our parents. Only reason I mention my girlfriend in that sentence is that she is the reason I was going to church. Sunday night was an extra opportunity to have a date with her. Now you have a complete picture of my adolescent spiritual life.
Not this year. It has occurred to me that Lent is about the false self. It is about turning away from something or somethings that give the false sense of value and acceptance. Something that, it is possible, you love more than God. It is denial of the things that give comfort and keep me from having to trust. Even as I continue to develop my identity in Christ, conforming to His image, it is possible to let the Lie creep in, to drift, and function as if something other than Jesus is necessary to make me whole.
It is with those thoughts running though my little brain, that I encountered this in one of the blogs I follow, the New Exodus by Chuck DeGroat (check it out):
Lent invites us to intentionally frustrate ourselves, to engage in a season of deprivation, which actually makes us more aware of the depth of our dependence on any number of things – a substance, our reputation, control, achievement, being right, being comfortable, being secure.
That became the catalyst for me. If you’ve read any of my past postings, you know that I’m a people pleaser. As I go through the daily process of denying myself and taking up this cross, I have been surprised by the number of ways the need for affirmation manifests itself. My pride wants satisfaction.
Which takes me to what I am giving up for Lent. I maintain this blog for me. I’m working out my thoughts on all this false self, identity, and spiritual life stuff as God directs. Anyone is invited to join, that is why the blog is open. My hope is that if people read they will find something helpful or something that resonates within them – I want God to use this journey.
Lately, though, I’ve gotten to looking at my ‘stats’. Often. Too often. Then either being ecstatic or bummed depending on the number of you that are joining me. It’s nice to be noticed. This is not your problem or me asking you not to read. I want you here, bring your friends, tweet and email anything you find of value. The problem is mine – it is my crafty false self in yet another new form. It is insecurity and the desire for affirmation to supplement what I get from God.
For the next 40 days I will not click the ‘stats’ link on my blog’s back-end (is that OK to say?). I’m disabling Google analytics. And I’m going to work through the symptoms of withdrawal as they bubble up.
You are invited to check-in with me on this as often as you care to. Ask me about my Lenten commitment. Ask me how I’m dealing. I’d appreciate your friendship.