Today marks the beginning of Lent, traditionally the 40 days before Easter when Christians take time to focus on the great sacrifice Christ made for us and prepare to celebrate his Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Not all Christians practice this, but I love traditions, so I try to take part in some way each year. Usually, Lent involves giving something up and taking something on. Similar to fasting, the idea is that when you find yourself missing that something you usually do, you instead think about Christ’s sacrifice. Nothing we give up can ever compare to what Christ gave up for us. It reminds us to be thankful. You replace that with something else to draw your attention to Christ.
I thought at first that I would give up meat. Yes, this might sound like a particularly impressive commitment. I was sitting in a coffee shop writing this post and thinking, “Yes, this is great! I’ll go to the market and pick up some veggie patties and buy some tofu, and I’ll be good to go.” I was excited. But I got in the car and started driving and immediately felt convicted. For me, giving up meat is easy. It wouldn’t really be a sacrifice. I don’t really like meat in the first place. I was vegetarian for a while before I got married because I noticed that I really only ate meat when it was fried and/or covered in ketchup. Now I’m married and my carnivorous husband’s diet has been good for me. I’ve been eating meat the way you’re supposed to: in smart quantities, in stir-fries with veggies, etc. There’s nothing unhealthy or dishonoring to God about the way I eat meat.
Dessert, on the other hand…
I physically cringe when I think about giving up brownies, cookies, muffins, cake, ice cream. I’m not the occasional desserter. Most days, I go through the motions with meals, saving room for the best part: a heap of apple pie and vanilla ice cream, or a few cookies and a glass of milk. I’m like a five-year-old. Give up my blueberry muffins and cinnamon roll cake? Sad, sad face. It’s horrible, I know. It’s not that dessert is evil or that I need to lose weight. It’s the way I plan my meals thinking, “What can I eat for dessert after?” and I plan my evenings thinking, “When will I eat dessert?” when I should be thinking about the fact that dinner is fellowship with my husband or our friends. Changing this mentality is the real challenge. I’m giving up dessert because it’s become a small idol to me.
To keep myself from thinking about dessert while I’m making dinner, I’m going to keep working on memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. If you don’t read Ann Voskamp’s daily blog, you absolutely should. She has wonderful, practical ways to keep yourself focused on Christ. At the beginning of the year, she suggested a plan for memorizing the Sermon on the Mount. I started and successfully memorized the first ten verses, but since then have fallen behind.
Of course, I think this is a great opportunity to read some Christ-centered books as well! I’m currently in the middle of a few books, but when I finish How To Be Good by Nick Hornby (review coming soon!), I plan on reading Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner. I’m excited to hear about her walk with God and hopefully learn more about my own.
Some other wonderful Lent reads:
This book has changed my life. Not exaggerating. It is the perfect book to read to make you fully ready to joyfully celebrate Christ’s saving work in our lives, throughout Lent and every day of the year. Read my review of the book here.
Though dealing with the very serious subject of grief, afterlife, and pain, David Crowder points us toward joy in Christ through community with others and the very cheering help of bluegrass music.