It is once again Lent, has been for a week and a half or so in fact. And with Lent has come the traditional conversations of what luxuries are being given up. Wine, cheese, chocolate, just to name a few. Yet sometimes it seems to me that we have started missing the point of Lent. Or, to put it another way, is there ever any long-term care that comes out of Lent anymore?
The idea of the self-sacrifice of Lent is generally recognized as being something that brings the individual closer to God. Many look to the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness, called there by the Holy Spirit, ignoring the temptations of the Devil, for inspiration. And oh, how tempting it must have been. Nowadays, many of us give up something that might be nice, but not something that we really don’t want to give up. At most, too many of us turn Lent into a brief inconvenience before resuming our ways after Easter. Too few of us use it as an opportunity to examine our demons.
And I say this as someone who lives with mental illness and who has been no stranger to self-medicating. And when people say that, we often picture drugs or alcohol. Yet it can just as easily be binge watching trashy television, over eating comfort foods, or pouring yourself into your work. And while self-care routines are essential to recovery and essential to being a good Christian in my opinion, over indulging in those routines to the point that you never face your demons is when it starts to be more of a problem.
That is why this year I am not giving something up. Instead, I am embracing the demons that I spend too much time ignoring. I am meditating. I am working on myself. And I am working on my faith. And maybe this isn’t what Lent is meant for maybe it is. However, it is something I feel like will be good for my mental health and something that will strengthen my faith. And at the end of the day it isn’t the church or you or others in the congregation whose opinion matters, whose judgment matters, but rather the Heavenly Father.
Lent in my opinion offers a ready-made opportunity for long-term care and healing. Yet too many of us waste that opportunity. Too many of us focus more on what we are giving up and not what they are supposed to be gaining. Too many of us don’t have the opportunity for long term healing, recovery, and growth. And whatever your plan for this Lent, I hope this post has helped you think about not only what you are giving up, but ultimately what you are gaining.
Until next time, thanks for reading. Be well.