March finds one in the midst of the Lent season. For a long time I thought that celebrating Lent merely meant giving up something in order to suffer. It made sense in my mind. What better way to focus on Easter and what Christ did on the cross than by voluntarily suffering? I never got much out of Lent.
A few years ago I learned that my perception of Lent was only half the picture. I had the giving up part right but I was missing out on the filling up. The whole picture of Lent involves not only giving something up, but filling that void with God. So to abstain from chocolate, or TV, or afternoon naps for 40 days in hopes of growing closer to an understanding of the Passion of Christ is most likely missing the mark.
I've had one good Lent experience. It was the Easter after Brooklyn was born, so 2007. I had Isabella and Brooklyn in my care and was in morning sickness/incredible exhaustion mode due to being pregnant once again. Every day around 3:00 I would be ready to throw in the towel. Since that wasn't an option I would head to the pantry, grab a can of Coke, down it in about 3.5 seconds and get on with the day fueled by caffine and sugar. The day was good. Until about 5:30 when inevitably the effects would wear off and let's just say our days were not ending up in a happy place.
For Lent I decided to kick the Coke habit and replace it with prayer. I'm pretty sure that if you stopped by our house during that season of Lent you would have found me on my knees at 3:30 like clockwork, crying out for some divine help, complete with weeping and gnashing of teeth supplied by my babes.
And it was so worth it. Not only to have nixed the daily sugar high and inevitable crash, but also to have learned that the power of the Holy Spirit is there for me all day long, whenever I need it, whatever the circumstances, to get me from strength to strength. The days didn't stop being tiring, the kids didn't start feeding and bathing themselves and then skipping off happily to bed. But I was able, because HE is able, to do those tasks required of me with joy and energy.
Since then I haven't had a good Lent experience. I struggle to find another vice that I have need to rid myself of. But as I pause to consider the 'filling up' side of Lent I know that I have so much further to go in growing closer to God and perhaps I need to shift my focus from throwing things off to putting things on.