You’re moving out of the land of Monica’s comfort level. You’ve just stepped into…The Discomfort Zone. *cue Twilight Zone music*
Since my college days, I’ve toyed with participating in the Christian act of Lent. I was raised in a Baptist home, and we Baptists don’t do Lent; we do potlucks quite well, however. Stereotypical, but true. As I’ve grown into an adult, I’ve stuck pretty closely to most of the Baptist beliefs and regularly attend a Baptist church. But that hasn’t stopped me from fantasizing about Lent. Okay, that sounded weird…
Every year on Ash Wednesday, I suddenly remember that it’s Ash Wednesday, so I hurriedly rack my brain and try to think of what I haven’t done already that day that could constitute as something to give or give up for Lent. Clearly, this isn’t the way to do Lent. Not to mention that apparently I’m a self-indulgent person, because every year I can’t think of a single controlling item or activity in my life that I haven’t already partaken in that day. To be fair, I guess I’m also lazy, because my go-to is usually to cut out sweets, and if I’ve already had sweets that day (and I always have), then I just give up until next year.
But this year, I remembered Lent ahead of time. “Ahead of time” meaning “the day before.” And I mulled it over almost all day on Tuesday. Giving up sweets seemed like the obvious choice, but I kind of do that from time to time anyway, and once I commit to it, it’s not too hard for me to stick with it. No, I wanted Lent to be different. Lent, like any period of religious fasting, is meant to challenge a Christian in some way, causing that person to cling to God rather than a food or material item that brings temporary satisfaction, resulting in a stronger faith or positive impact on the Christian and/or on those around the Christian. That could mean giving something up or doing something different. Keep in mind that I’m paraphrasing here. I’m not the Lent Expert.
After some deliberation, I decided to take one meal time (probably my lunch break most days) every day for the next 45 days for a time of prayer, meditation and Bible study, mainly looking at passages about love and marriage as I prepare for my new role as a wife. Everyone is different, but time spent removing myself from distractions like food, Facebook, texting and The X Files on Netflix will likely not only be good for me as a person, but also for me as a Christian.
Before I go any further, you should know that this post is, as I noted at the beginning, outside my comfort zone. I’m not the kind of girl who posts Bible verses on her Facebook page, uses #blessed in Tweets or regrams inspirational quotes about Jesus and calming the storm and being swept up in His grace, etc. That’s just not me. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that – I have many friends who do – but I feel like I sacrifice genuineness if I do that. I’ve always seen myself as more of a “show, not (always) tell” person when it comes to my faith, but I realize that both forms of communication are important. So this is me, doing the “telling” part that makes me nervous.
Those of you who may not know me should understand (or be warned?) that my faith is important to me, and I continue to look for ways to lovingly exude what I believe to be true: that Jesus is the Savior of the world and the one way to get to heaven. As a Christian, I want, ideally, everyone to go to heaven, and say these things only because I love humanity and wouldn’t want to keep something I believe is true about our souls to myself. I’m aware not everyone agrees with me, and I certainly wouldn’t try to force anyone to agree with me, nor do I shun people from my life who don’t agree with me. (Jesus didn’t do that. If I like you, I like you and want to hang out with you, whether you and I always agree about faith/politics/social issues or not.) Your decision is yours, not mine. And some of you may label me intolerant or rude, but I recently heard someone say that it would be more intolerant or rude of me to not present this information that I truly believe, especially when it regards the fate after death.
Uh, well, now that I’ve probably alienated all the Christians who post Bible verses on social media and non-Christians in two paragraphs, I’ll continue for maybe a couple of you outliers who are still hanging in there.
As I said, I’m always trying to find more ways to lovingly show the love I feel God has for us all – whether that be in baking cookies for my coworkers or listening to a friend’s troubles and praying for him or her. Obviously, non-Christians can show love and compassion, and I think that’s wonderful. The world could use more love and compassion from its inhabitants. For me personally, I want my acts of love to show Jesus’ love, because not everyone knows that love exists, and I desperately want them to. I’m certainly not a perfect specimen of holiness. But, really, who is? And isn’t that the beauty of it all?
I’m hoping that using Lent as a time of reflection will help me improve my outward display of Jesus’ love to my future husband and those around me. Case in point, this entire post may come across as extremely off-putting and void of kindness or love. Come see me after Lent. Maybe that will have changed.
One day down.