Howdy learned about Lent in his Sunday bible class and decided that he should give up desserts for Lent. I was very impressed that he would choose this voluntarily especially since it hadn't even crossed my mind to observe Lent. It hasn't been easy for him. He's used to having dessert every day (a habit that I am more than happy to see being put on hold). After about Day 3 he was having second thoughts. He said, "I think I picked the wrong thing." When that means he's given up precisely the right thing.
In a show of support for his struggle, I decided to give up something as well. I have given up reading novels for Lent. This, of course, means that I am not reading my usual 5 or 6 vampire books each week. It hasn't been too difficult until these last few days. It helps that I haven't had any new books around to read but still I'm going stir crazy without my books. I took the kids to the library today and I thought that I would just look at the paperbacks so that I could see what I've been missing. They didn't have a single book that I would have checked out. I think that's supposed to be a good thing.
I've never observed Lent before and I know I'm not doing it properly now. The idea isn't just that you give up something important. I believe you're also supposed to pair that with setting your mind on God now that you've removed this desire that is usually in the way. To be honest, I don't think it's actually considered observing Lent if it's not done with the right mindset. What I'm doing is really only moral support for my son. I'm not teaching him any valuable lessons here, just that he can live without sugar longer than he thought.
I have close friends who go through Lent with it's full meaning close to heart. As I think about what it means to replace those "priorities" in your life with thoughts and focus on God, I am convicted that I need to do this more on a daily, hour to hour basis, as opposed to a yearly, dictated event. I am aware of God's presence in my life. It's His will that opens my eyelids in the mornings, not my own. But that's not enough. That's like saying, "I'm aware that I have children but I'll get to them when it's convenient." If my children had to wait to be taken care of until I got around to it or when I was "in the mood", they would have starved to death years ago!
I spend almost every waking minute immersed in my childrens' lives. I can tell you what they will ask for at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can flip through the TV and tell you which kid will want to watch which shows. I could even tell you what they would say in their bedtime prayers most nights. I know what they like and what they don't and I try to give them what they like. I can tell you who's tackling whom just by the muffled voices drifting down from their bedrooms. I am not just "aware" of them, I live and breathe them. My children, children who were given to me by God and ultimately belong to Him alone.
Our call is to be completely immersed in God, to live Him, breathe Him. We need to know where He is in our lives even when it seems like His voice is muffled. It's not enough to know of Him, I should be intimately involved with Him, His word, His teaching.
But still, I find a complete sacrifice of spirit and will to be much more difficult than any physical sacrifice. Nothing I give up will compare to giving up my own selfish wants and desires and replacing them with His words and deeds. I'm not sure I can do that completely in 40 days.