Anyone who knows me, knows I love challenges. I’ve taken on a challenge where I completed 101 new things I’ve never done in 1001 days. I’ve participated in a triathlon, and most recently I’ve taken up a writing challenge. These challenges force me to revisit my boundaries. They push me to the limit and encourage me to stretch those boundaries by way of personal growth.
Lent is definitely a challenge – no wonder it is always one of my favourite times of year!
My earliest memories of Lent is when I was about 10 years old. I remember observing the tradition with my grandmother. She would encourage me to join her in this challenge and give up something I really loved. During the 40 days, we shared our struggles with each other and cheered each other on for keeping strong. Whatever we gave up, on Easter morning – regardless of the time, we would indulge. Pepsi and popcorn at 7 a.m, yes, please! And, it was rewarding, satisfying, and tasted amazing.
I didn’t quite understand Lent back then. For me, Lent was just a fun challenge and something I did with my grandmother. A chance for us to participate in something together, an opportunity for us to bond and become closer. Enduring the ‘suffering’ together, sharing our struggles and successes. I must say our relationship with each other became a little bit stronger because of it.
A few years ago my reasons for participating in Lent changed. Lent became something I wanted to do to remember what Jesus went through in the wilderness. Jesus fought temptation, so I wanted to fight temptation. Jesus succeeded, so I wanted to succeed. I wanted to show God my love, by beating temptation like Jesus did. My reason for participating in Lent this year has changed again. It’s much different than what it was a few years ago – and I believe it’s because my relationship with God has changed.
Lent is not about me giving something up so I can show God my love. God knows my heart. I don’t need to prove anything.
Yes, Lent is still a challenge, but to me, it is much more than that.
For me, Lent is about spending time in introspection. It’s a time of year that keeps me focused on the present – with intention. A time of year that sheds light on any bad habits that may have crept up in my life, and encourages me to re-evaluate those bad habits.
Our culture is so focused on being busy that we seldom make time for ourselves. The pace of life grabs us and without realizing it we begin to feel out of control.
The season of Lent is a time to take back that control. Lent pushes me to an even deeper relationship with God. And, with God’s help, a small “old” part of me becomes “new”.
Over those 40 days, another piece of me transforms and moves me closer to being one with God. My grandmother is no longer with us, and that’s okay. Instead of spending Lent with my grandmother, my partner is God. Instead of sharing my struggles and successes with my grandmother, I share them with God.
On Easter morning I have no doubt my relationship with God will be a little bit stronger – just like it was with my Grandmother.