Monday, February 27, 2012

flashing and fasting. a classic combination.

i grew up not doing lent. because it was for catholics. duh.

i think one time in college, i went out for fat tuesday and watched people get sh-wasted. i've seen mardi gras on TV...people doing some crazy stuff for plastic necklaces. for a long time, i didn't know it was actually attached to a religious holiday. because it looked the opposite of religious to me.

not that i wasn't sinning.  please. i just wasn't as forthright as flashing people in the streets.

but back to lent.
so is this "religious" holiday just for catholics? 

maybe i'll ask it this way:
is fasting just for catholics?

i had to think about this tonight. because of a conversation with my dad.

me: mom, stop making chocolate. i'm giving it up for lent. geez.
(i'm pretty sure you don't need to go announcing what you are giving up for lent. lent-fail.)

dad: so you're a catholic now. that's a catholic holiday, is it not?

me: i don't think it's catholic. i think it's christian. i'll have to google it. 
but even if it is a catholic thing, maybe they have something going here, dad. 
i mean, fasting is good. that's in the bible, from what i hear. God tells us to fast.

then someone turned on whitney houston and everyone was dancing so that's as far as the debate went. what can you do when a sweet jam overtakes your body.

anyway, for an unstructured person like myself, i enjoy a built in season for the church, as a whole and individually, to check in on their hearts. in fasting, we redirect our heart towards Jesus. we say, help me, Lord...because i think i need sweet treats(or TV, or alcohol or Facebook, etc.) all the time. and perhaps when i don't get those sweet treats i will lean on you harder. i will ask for help. i think of my small sacrifice and will ponder your big sacrifice. 

now let's get a little something straight. it's not like participating in lent somehow makes you more righteous. it doesn't makes you a better person. it really won't. it won't pay penance for your sins. i have seen this as a definition of lenten fasting and i disagree. there is nothing you can do to pay penance for your sins. that's why we celebrate easter, right? 
because Jesus paid for our sins.  
now there's a reason to celebrate. exclamation point.
because no amount of giving up anything can bridge the gap that separates you from God. 

and here's a joke to prove it.


this is more a practice that helps us reflect and turn away from idols in our hearts.
and it's 6 weeks long. there's something about an elongated fast. an elongated reflection of Jesus and the sacrifice he made for us. it seems more meaningful. it is definitely harder than fasting for one day. captain obvious, that's me. you get the point though.

so, ya. i'm late in the game on lent. figuratively and literally. i didn't grow up doing it and also, i think we started late this year. whatever. is it ever too late to lay something down at the feet of Jesus? i think not.

so if you're going to jump on the lenten bandwagon, be thoughtful about your fast. 
ask yourself:
is there something that i lean on in difficult times instead of Jesus?
is there something that is taking a lot of brain space? what do i spend a lot of time thinking about?(this might expose an idol and help point to something to give up)
is there something i spend an excessive amount of time doing that comes before spending time with the Lord?

in asking these questions of ourselves, 
we say, Lord, search my heart.

so i'd say, if there's ever a bandwagon to jump on, even late, jump on the bandwagon of self-reflection that leads to repentance.. give up something and gain much more.


and P.S. why do we make a fuss about lent(is it ok or isn't it ok?). no one fusses when we prepare our hearts for christmas by participating in advent. but when we participate in lent to prepare our hearts for easter, it gets weird. 

(now my dad will leave an anonymous comment saying YOU'RE RIGHT! i made such a smart daughter. who's funnier than me too.)

25 comments:

  1. liking your take here. i read this GNARLY and good post by Amanada (http://www.daesofourlives.com/2012/02/lent.html) which rocked me, and now you're bringing a little different angle up - asking God to show me what gets in the way of my relationship with Him. that seems like a good thing always. and why not remove the clutter now in preparation for better absorbing the meaning of Easter. thanks for being brave. and funny. it's a really good combo.

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  2. funny. also, amen.
    i so appreciate and adore your way of shining light on important things. lent. whitney as good dance jams...


    much love, praying for you as you prepare for this easter season! xoxo

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  3. love it. definitely has me thinking. and sweating. and yes, you are smart and funny. i dig you. in a completely safe kind of way.

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  4. so i grew up in a church that didn't really recognize lent, then i went to rockhurst, a catholic college. one day i was driving to my night class, and pulled over for a second to say hi to a friend who was just walking back from a soccer game or something. she leaned into my car window to chat, and i noticed she had a dirty smudge on her forehead. seeing as she was hot and sweaty and had obviously been outside playing around, i thought i'd be a good friend and point out that "hey, you have some dirt or something on your face." she was confused, then said, "oh! it's ash wednesday!" DUH.

    pretty sure i might have lost my salvation for that one.

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  5. I started giving up things for lent a couple years ago. Totally thought it was a catholic thing too, but I realized the idea was to help us to focus more on Jesus and his sacrifice. It's a daily reminder of the biggest sacrifice ever made, and although we usually give us silly things, it turns our attention to our savior more throughout the day. It's something I plan to do each year :) Good debate my friend!

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  6. Everything you said is right on. I never have done lent, I've thought about it... but that joke is sort of true. I saw (underage) friends in high school giving up alcohol and people giving up their favorite snack, or something they didn't even like. But your questions at the end are thought provoking. I know lent already started, but maybe I will give something up for the rest of the time, better late then never.

    (Gahh Pinterest? Caffeine? There are so many choices...)

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  7. your posts always rock my socks.
    love this!

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  8. absolutely jami. drawing closer to Christ is the ultimate purpose of fasting. and hey it's better to be late than never to never show up right!
    seriously great post.

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  9. I have participated in Lent for the past few years. I'm not catholic either. When I was younger it was chocolate, and then all junk food ect.. But this year I am giving up talking about other people in a negative way and the half swear words. It is tough so I am talking to God all the time. AND these are things I no longer want in my life.

    Thanks for posting this Jami, I loved reading it. You are spot on I recon! :)

    Ngaio May xx

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  10. Such good stuff. Have you seen this lent devotional guide from The Village Church?

    http://www.thevillagechurch.net/mediafiles/seasons-lent-guide.pdf

    The link to it was posted on another blog I love called Passionate Homemaking. The guide explains church traditions, has weekly fasts for every week of Lent. And, it includes scripture, other readings and space for personal reflection. Good stuff.

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  11. I was never a Lenten Celebrater growing up either and then I converted to Catholicism and it kind of came with the territory :) Lent and Easter have become my favorite season of the year- slowly edging out Christmas (whaaaat?!!) and btw, if you have any Catholic friends or are just kind of curious about those weirdos who get ashes or can't eat meat on Fridays, you should visit a Holy Thursday Mass. That's a powerful night and a sharp reminder of who we are and who CHRIST really is. Anyway- super proud of your chocolate sacrifice. That's a tough one! Everytime you want that little treat, you really will be all like "I mean if Jesus can give up his life for me...I guess I can give up that M&M...it's kind of the same thing". The constant reminder stays with us during Lent and that's definitely a GREAT thing for my over indulgent, instant gratification seeking self. Thanks for the post and God speed! I'm sure you'll have a nice, chocolate bunny waiting for you Easter Morning! Hallelujah He is Risen...pass the Snickers please. Thankyouverymuch.

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  12. All Protestant churches that follow the liturgical calendar observe Lent, whether one of their practices is to "give up" something for Lent or not. I chose to give up something that I indulge in. Every time I go to reach for it (which is often especially after V-day), I stop and say a small prayer. So yes, I do believe giving something up can bring you closer to god, because it can make you more mindful. Do I usually pray to god this often? No. But by replacing this habit with the other...I am definitely focusing more on him during this lenten season.

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  13. As you suggest, it's more about the SPIRIT than the ACTION itself.

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  14. Thank you for recognizing that Lent is Christian - not just something that I, as a Catholic, participate in. I love reading your posts and this was was especially thought provoking :-)

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  15. Wow, Jami. You wrote this all out so well. God really has given you a gift... you are so relate-able, so real, and so Right. Thanks for this encouragement, it's so good.

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  16. I aint givin' up coffee. I'll die. ;-) On other notes - my dad would say very similar things (in all his 83 year old gloriousness), and I've avoided speaking of Whitney at all costs because I don't care what others think about her. But man, I love(d) that lady. I sure hope I meet her Heaven!!

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  17. This is a great message. And it's perfect timing. Literally, the Lord asked me two days ago to fast some things until Easter. This fast is about a specific issue, but I think that there is extra grace in this Lent season, and how marvelous that we get to encourage each other in our fasts and in growing closer to Jesus. Thank you for this post.

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  18. wow I've been thinking about this too. Grew up in a Christian home where we didn't acknowledge lent, really only discovered it a few years go on blogs! haha and yeah I wondered if its ok to start mine late too, for a spilt second, before deciding it was TOTALLY fine. yah.

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  19. I totally agree with what you are saying here! I don't usually "give up something" for Lent, but I did decide to give up Facebook and Pinterest this year. I thought the same thing, how can I not sacrifice and try to get rid of a few of my idols, when Jesus sacrificed His life for us! And I definitely agree that it can be dangerous with this "giving something up" to thing that you are more righteous because you are making a sacrifice... but it's not even close to His! Thanks for sharing!

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  20. I don't know how the heck I found your blog and I don't care...the more I read it, the more I adore you! I grew up in the Catholic church and I suppose we did Lent, no wait, I didn't actually do anything Lent-ish. I have since, in becoming an adult, not done anything Lent-ish either, because I suppose instead of giving something up, I've simply given my life to Jesus. Maybe instead of NOT doing something, I should start a progressive plan for Lent...like picking up my clothes off the bedroom floor (hubby would appreciate that), or actually vacuum the dog hair up BEFORE we track it all over the house. Though I've rarely found that laundry and a clean floor bring me any closer to Jesus. Oh, I know - maybe I should actually commit to doing my quiet times in the morning. Every morning. I knew this would come full circle!

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  21. i've been telling myself since last week that it's too late.
    i'm one of those people that feel it's right only when it's right...
    i.e. if i didn't start on ash wednesday... then it's not a real fast for lent.
    WRONG-O!
    thanks for your post.
    it hit me like a ton of bricks.
    i too didn't grow up with "lent" but have been doing it more or less for the past few years (it's like a "new" thing in our evangelical churches, huh?).
    sooo... in saying all that...
    i'm giving up reading blogs...
    and the computer in general (except for emails, etc).
    sooo... i'll say ta-ta for now...
    i'll read more of you in april! :)
    thanks for the encouragement!!
    xo

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  22. alright... it's official...
    last post will be here:
    http://thejoyinthemiddle.blogspot.com/2012/02/week-late.html

    and last comment... is HERE!
    thanks jami!

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  23. HI! Just found your blog.. and am so glad you did. I don't know your father, but I can only assume you're funnier than him. Mkay? Also? Not Catholic, and obviously way late to the lent game this year, but considering what/if I should give up. Because there is always something to give up, isn't there? Always something that takes up more of our time and thoughts than it should. Thanks for this little kick in the pants this morning. I'll be hanging around to read more. Get excited.

    Aja

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  24. I grew up catholic. We celebrated lent, but I didn't know the real reason behind it until i was saved and decided to give up shopping for lent. I had become addicted to it and it was making my heart feel heavy. My choice to stay away from shopping was it was like a visit to the Chiropractor. I felt realigned. My walk with God was less foggy and I could focus better on HIM and HIS message. It was needed. I was since baptized into a protestant church and have let a lot of the catholic traditions fall by the way side but there are a few things I learned growing up Catholic that protestants don't preach on that are biblical and very helpful if applied. Like lent for example.

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