I am not Catholic, nor have I ever been Catholic. I grew up in a very conservative Brethren in Christ church. And, now, my husband and I attend a more evangelical, charismatic church. Something that we Protestants don't seem to focus on too much is Lent. Oh, we love Fastnacht Day (aka Fat Tuesday) here in our area which is known for it's Mennonite and Amish community & culture. But, we pretty much leave the rest of the Lenten season up to our Catholic brothers and sisters.
This year however, I decided to recognize the Lenten period by going the traditional route of giving up something. I had only done this once before years earlier when I gave up caffeine during Lent. (Trust me. It was brutal.) I mentioned in an earlier post that I was considering giving up something this year of great importance to me...Facebook. And, yes, I've decided to do it! I'm giving up Facebook during Lent. I've also decided to give up sweets (desserts, candy, pastries). Sounds crazy doesn't it? Either Facebook or sweets alone would be brutal. Combined? Mommy may not be the easiest person to live with for the next few weeks. But, notice, I am NOT giving up caffeine...so at least there's that.
But why? Why have I decided to recognize a religious event that is largely ignored by us Protestants? Well, the surface answer is that I want to take some time to recognize the suffering that Jesus endured on our behalf. I have chosen to give up two things that have become more important to me than they probably should be.
Facebook, while a way for me as a SAHM to stay connected and not feel alone, has also become a huge time-waster. I am actually rather obsessive about checking it multiple times during the day. On top of that, my sons and I have gotten sucked into some of the games applications available on Facebook (Zoo World & Fishville to be exact)and that eats up even more time. Plus, I don't like the fact that my boys are mirroring my obsession with checking our virtual zoo or fish tank.
As far as the sweets go, it's another area where I can't seem to exercise moderation. And, I'm never really satisfied after noshing on candy, or pie, or ice cream or whatever other indulgence is available. And, the fact that it's 7 weeks since my youngest son was born and the scale is threatening to go higher than it was WHILE I WAS PREGNANT is also a clue that something needs to change.
Both Facebook and sweets are things that I have been turning to when I am bored, frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed, etc. As a SAHM with 4 boys ages 6 & under, that can be frequent. And, I never feel better afterwards. So many times I feel worse. These things which should be and can be enjoyable are becoming a negative in my life. So, I feel God is asking me to turn away from them for a period of time and turn instead to Him.
But, here's the interesting thing about Lent that as a Protestant I didn't really realize. Lent lasts for a period of 40 days - from Ash Wednesday (right after Fastnacht Day!) until Palm Sunday. Now, 40 days of fasting is something which we Protestants can somewhat understand. After all Jesus was called into the desert for 40 days during which he fasted and Satan attempted to test him. The Israelites spent 40 years wandering in their own wilderness. 40 is a significant number and marks periods of time that are often times of testing & trial, but also time of preparation.
And, there we have the BIG reason that I've decided to celebrate Lent this year. I am hoping and praying that these 40 days will be a time of preparation. I want to prepare my heart and mind for what God has in store for my life, my husband's life, and for our family. I have been feeling the nudge to pray for my husband over the last few months and that God would give him vision. John has always been very missions minded. As a matter of fact, shortly after we first met he left for a year-long missions trip to Nairobi, Kenya. He had always felt he had direction and vision up to that point. But, since marrying and starting a family, his attention has been consumed with providing for his family and the daily busy-ness of life. He is longing for a clear vision again.
Praying this for my husband can be scary, because I'm not sure what vision God might give him. Also, I tend to be worrier and I'm not a huge fan of change. Ok - I deal with change kicking and screaming. So, if I am going to ask God for this, I also need to ask for Him to prepare my heart. And there you have it.
Will this be easy? Probably not. Are there potentially great rewards? Absolutely. I plan to keep you posted here and there on how I'm doing on this Lenten journey. I don't anticipate that my updates will always be particularly spiritual, but hopefully they will be honest. For now, I'm going to go nibble on some banana chips and raisins to help satisfy my sweet tooth!