Lentish With Jessica Bowman 8

lenten reflectionsI have an evangelical confession to make. I’m not proud of it, and yet in another, probably less mature way, I sort of am, also.

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 Bowman


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.

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8 thoughts on “Lentish With Jessica Bowman

  • Sara B

    I’m loving this Lenten series! I think so many of us “give up” something for Lent out of guilt. A couple of years ago, I decided to take it an the opportunity to better myself in some way. Yes, I could do these things at any time of the year, but the Lenten season is as good a time as any. Plus, the reason for “giving something up” is to make a sacrifice, to feel just a little bit of the pain Jesus felt when he sacrificed for us. So, 4 years ago I gave up coffee. 3 years ago it was carbs. Last year, I gave up judgements (that one didn’t go so well). This year I am giving up excuses (mostly pertaining to exercising). These have only lasted the 40 days. Its impossible to live without coffee! Each year I’m challenging myself to be just a little bit better. A little bit more of the person God created me to be. Yes, its a sacrifice, but its worth it.

  • Kristin Kraabel

    I admit growing up in a Baptist household I didn’t even know the word Lent until high school. When my friend convinced me to help her I should not eat meat for 40 days. Okay dokay, no biggie. My parents supported me and kind of were amused. I don’t give up things because I should (us baptists hate the word should don’t ya know) but because I’m called to it. There have been very few (in my short 31 yrs) in which I have been called to give something up, but when I have been it is usally streching and not something, but an emotion (anger, hate, pity). Thank you for sharing Jessica.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    Oh Jessica… how I just ‘get’ you! I have the same confession… sure – I have fasted… but never actually FOR Lent and I tend to lean in with you toward New Covenant Grace and yet I agree that there is a richness and depth to be found in sacrifice and discipline… (not my two favorite words!) I love and appreciate your honesty… your humor (bless your heart)… and I have to say – right now – I am with ya on the whole wine/sex/facebook front!

  • Jill Foley

    I think we are all called by God to grow in certain ways at certain times. It’s being sure that we are listening to his voice and obeying his requests that is important. I’ve never been on Facebook – I feel very specifically that God has asked me not to. Do I think it’s evil or that I’m more Christian because of my choice? No… I simply feel it’s not where God wants ME.

    Last year I did much more of a fast during Lent (I grew up Mennonite so Lent was not part of my background either). This year looks much different because I feel God prodding me in different ways.

    I like the challenge of 40 days – it gets me out of my comfort zone and gives me a specific time to work on things.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Heather Caliri

    Preach it, sister.
    This: “I’m still recovering from the curse or evangelical guilt that says I’ll never be “Christian” enough for Jesus.”
    My personal spiritual discipline right now is keeping things simple, with training wheels on. Because the anxiety starts as soon as I try to “succeed” for Jesus. I’m trying to trust that “His yoke is easy and his burden is light.” It blows my mind.

  • Nancy Franson

    Not Southern, but I’ve got Baptist roots too and Lent was never a part of my experience either. And sometimes it was downright mocked.

    I went to my first Ash Wednesday service with friends this year, and the pastor spoke about Lent being sort of like a double-down on New Year’s resolutions. He read the parable about sweeping the house clean only to make room for seven more powerful demons to move in. And that’s what happens, I think, we we start trying really, really hard to be more godly. In giving up Facebook or wine, I’m sure I would be tempted to become pretty darned smug about my godliness.

    I am learning the value of different spiritual practices for different seasons of my life, recognizing we’re all wired differently and God meets us where we are. Always, it’s about making space for him to do his work. Not for me to try harder.