“There’s something about it that makes sense, Lent. You give something up, and everything’s more joyful.” ~ Elaine Stritch
In many ways, Lent truly is all about perspective. There are two common ways to view Lent: negatively and positively. When we view Lent negatively, we see it as a time where we “have to give things up”. We have to give up our favorite foods. We have to give up eating meat on Fridays. We have to give up our vices. The thought of giving things up is burdensome to many.
When we view Lent positively, we see it as a time to do the things that we fail to do throughout the year. We give up our free time in order to help others. We give up some of our personal time in order to pray more, thus drawing closer to God. Our focus, then, is not on the giving up part, but, on the positive side of what happens when we give things up. Far from burdensome, our Lenten practice becomes a source of joy for us.
Anyone who does ministry will tell you that they often feel that they receive more out of it than the people they have served. They have given of themselves but, in touching the lives of others, they have found great reward. Sometimes they feel guilty about that. There is no reason to feel that way, though. God rewards the one who gives, the one who serves.
On this First Sunday of Lent, some of you might be saying, “What have I done to myself?!” You might be reciting a litany of don’ts. You’re not going to do this, you’re giving up that. That kind of list can only serve to keep you focused on the negative. I would venture to guess that the voice telling you all of that is not of God. The devil will do all that is in his power to keep us from getting closer to the Lord.
Do not reflect upon the negative. Instead, reflect upon the positive that will come out of your giving up things or time. Think about the people whose lives you can touch in a positive way. Think about your relationship with the Lord and how it has the capacity to grow stronger.
Do not think about Lent as being a long struggle. Think about it, instead, as a wonderful opportunity to serve the Lord. As you do your best to maintain Lenten resolutions, God will give you the grace and strength that you need to continue.
Perhaps one of your resolutions can be to look out for a family member or friend. If you see that they are flagging in their resolve, reach out to them. Help them to see the positive side of this wonderfully holy season. In doing so, not only will they be more prepared to celebrate the glories of Easter, you shall be as well.
FAITH ACTION: As it is still quite early in the season, review your Lenten resolutions and make sure that they are practical. Try to view them in a positive light instead of seeing them as a series of negative.