I’ve never observed Lent. Ever. There, I said it.
Now, in my defense, my Southern Baptist upbringing is mostly to blame. The land of “saved by grace and not by works”; the less is more denomination. Besides, practicing Lent seems a little Catholic, and we’re pretty sure those guys aren’t even getting into heaven. Bless their heart.
In fact, I have so little experience with all things Lent that the very first thing that pops into my mind upon hearing the word is Josh Hartnett in 40 Days and 40 Nights. (Real mature, Jessica.) Which is followed closely by the emphatic decision that I’m definitely not walking that road. No ma’am. Even Paul said it was better to give up Lent than to burn. Or something like that.
After I shake off the shuddering reality of living 40 days sexless, the next connect-the-Lent-dot of my wandering mind trails to the concept of social media fasting. It’s so in these days. Well, no thank you. I’d give up facebook long before I’d give up sex, but frankly, I just don’t feel “convicted” on either front.
Then, of course, there’s fasting the old fashioned way. Did I mention my Baptist background? Yeah. That’s not happening either.
Here’s the part where, if I weren’t so lazy, I might bother to form an argument about how the new covenant absolves us from liturgical unnecessarities , how the Son has set us free so we should be free indeed.
But the truth is, I believe somewhere in my core that there is something to be said and holiness to be found in the spiritual disciplines. That we don’t necessarily have to throw out the legalistic baby out with the bath water.
And yet even so, at this stage in my walk, all I hear Jesus whisper in my ear is, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” and I know that Lent isn’t a part of my journey yet.
I’m still, fumblingly, trying to grasp, internalize, the simple truth that I am worth more than many sparrows (and not one of them is forgotten). That the hairs on my head are numbered. That I am counted. That I am loved.
I’m still recovering from the curse or evangelical guilt that says I’ll never be “Christian” enough for Jesus. The childhood church culture that mired my soul heart-deep in unbiblical expectations labeled with a capital B. That pressed in from all sides and told me that God fit into an angry box painted black and white, and that he expected me to fit into it, too.
So no, my soul is still a bit tender for such a thing as Lent. Though I do see how it can be of benefit to many.
Instead, I will make you a promise. You don’t begrudge me for partaking unashamedly in wine, sex, and facebook during the upcoming Lenten season. And I promise I won’t begrudge you for the abstaining.
Jessica is a blog from home mom of four children who has followed her high school sweetheart across ocean and continent. You can find her sarcasm, wit, and occasional cynicism at Bohemian Bowmans or on Facebook.