The good gift of lent

I love Lent. Ever since I first heard about it, decades ago now, I have loved this season. Being of a somewhat ascetic temperament, fasting is my love language. You want me to give something up? Do something hard? For God? Sign me up! As a teenager, I dreamed of being a missionary to Communist Russia. I actually wanted to get caught and sent to Siberia. Stories of martyrs languishing in prison and dying for their faith thrilled me, and I wanted to be like them.

Then I grew up. I tasted suffering, and it was not the romantic experience I’d always imagined. I did not like it. But I still liked Lent with its fasting and praying and giving things up for God.

Until this year. For the first time ever, I was actually dreading Lent this year. You see, it’s been two years of letting go of thing after thing after thing in my life. Two years of shedding identities that have long defined me. Two years of surrendering more and more of myself to God. Two long years of Lent.

The thought of more giving up gives me pause. What else do you want, Lord? And He says, Everything. He says it gently. But He says it nonetheless.

Please do not mishear me. The past two years, despite the giving up and the letting go over and over again, have also been beautiful. I have grown so much. I can feel that my soul is larger. And I am grateful.

I am also aware that I have only begun this journey of surrender. I still have much to let go of, many miles to walk on this pilgrimage of faith and trust, and the way my heart has shrunk back in fear this Lent reminds me just how far I have to go….

Today I am moonlighting over at The Messy Middle, online home of my friend Amy Young, who is mapping the terrain of the church year with her readers (and me!). Please head on over and read the rest of the post at her place?