40 days ago I began Lent (for you counters, it was actually more than 40 days because the count does not include Sundays). I decided to willingly give up a few things, not simply to sacrifice something, but so I could give more to things.
So, being deeply spiritual, I decided to give up Starbucks, any restaurant with a drive-thru and TV.
I gave up Starbucks because of the “need.” I did not want to need coffee when I got up in the morning. I gave up drive-thru’s because of “pace.” I did not want my life to be at a pace where I was not able to sit at the table with my family to eat. I gave up TV because of “influence.” I did not want pop culture to be the significant influence in my life.
How was Lent? I’m glad you asked. Here’s a little of what I learned. Starbucks is not the only establishment that sells coffee. There are many fast food restaurants with no drive-thrus and several of them have TV’s (thank you Lolitas).
I didn’t make a sacrifice at all. I have learned in order to consider something of loss a sacrifice, it must have value. Starbucks, drive-thrus and TV really have no value to me. I do not miss any of them at all. I have also saved money, lost weight, spent quality time with the family and read several books.
After the first couple of weeks, I also noticed a change was happening in me (the point, right). Refusing to “need” coffee, helped me in becoming a someone who doesn’t need to do many things – responding to criticism, defending myself, reacting and speaking up, to mention a few. Refusing to go to a drive-thru is still forming something in me, I think it may be about laziness, and it just being easier to go out than to cook and clean. Refusing to watch TV has, I believe, been the most significant thing, particularly as it relates to being a follower of Jesus. I have regained wasted hours of my week. I have regained my mind, and what I choose to think about. I have regained sleep (I think TV at night was keeping awake throughout the night). I have read several incredible books about the God I say I believe in and what it means to live my life in a way that Jesus would live it if he were me, I’ve memorized large amounts of the Bible, read the Bible and prayed (for real) to mention, again, just a few.
That’s Lent. It’s a discipline. It’s arranging my life around practices to enable me to do what I am not able to do by willpower alone. And that is how Lent was for me (and will continue to be as being formed is never finished).
And if you’re wondering, I had a coffee while writing this, I owe my kids a McDonald’s ice-cream cone, and the TV is staying unplugged.