Magnolia trees The Danny Sims Blog

Here are my occasional insights, stories, conversations, perspectives, ideas, reflections, theological musings. And whatever else I might post.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

I Gave up Lent for Lent

I gave up Lent for Lent a few years ago.

Here's why.

Spiritual disciplines are good for me. I practice them in private. As Jesus did, as Jesus teaches.
Religious disciplines? I’m not so sure. If religious disciplines are programmatic (they often are), practiced in a public way (almost always), and tend to bring attention to the person doing the religious thing (usually), I give it a thumbs down.

I don’t need attention or religious programs. I need humility and spiritual disciplines.

When I finally realized I gained nothing from religious disciplines, I found a new peace. I still read the scriptures, books, and enjoy liturgy, music and art. But I’ve pretty much dropped out of religious programming.

Could this be a case of "it's not you, it's me"? Sure. But I've spoken with enough friends about giving up Lent to know it's not just me.

And get this: I discovered giving up Lent actually led me to a richer and deeper daily practice of the character and values of God. Giving up Lent even prepared me for Easter with prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and self-denial. Funny, huh? Giving up Lent led me to a place practicing Lent never could.

Maybe Lent and other religious practices lead you to a good place. For me? Not so much.

I suppose this post makes public what I’m saying ought to be private. I truly thought about not posting. But there are many who might want to try giving up something other than chocolate. Or Starbucks. Or red meat or movies or butter on their popcorn or tequila or whatever it is.

Many will hear their friends are giving up something for Lent. Then they might wonder how they measure up or if their sacrifice is significant enough. Are they religious enough? I know because I've been there. If in any way you are like me, I decided to post this for you.

I gave up Lent for Lent and it’s been all good.