Why I’m a Baptist doing Lent

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.

Advertisements

About monicaspees

I'm Monica. I'm a twentysomething, and I like to write amusing things about my life and my observations. My imaginary alter ego is sometimes a comedian and sometimes a rock star.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Why I’m a Baptist doing Lent

  1. Tony Burgess says:

    This Episcopalian who has done lent for the last 17 years is here to support you.

  2. I grew up Baptist, and slowly realized that I did not agree with many of the things I always heard. Especially many of the things I saw my fellow Baptist family and church goers doing. It wasn’t until grad school that I firmly declared myself agnostic. It also took awhile for me to have this conversation with my husband, who is very Baptist (Funny how we use that word in the south).

    I too, though, have always been fascinated by Lent. And the Catholic faith. Part of that comes from having studied it in all my history classes. Yesterday a very close friend who is Catholic told me he wouldn’t be home till 7 as he was going to mass for Ash Wednesday and I was like “Oh, it snuck up on me again!”

    Interestingly enough, the Pope spoke about Lent and says that he thinks they should be doing better with what they give up. That people should be making an effort to help others.
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/lent-is-a-time-of-pruning-and-reconciliation-pope-francis-says-87835/

    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/if-mercy-doesnt-reach-your-pockets-its-not-real-pope-says-77298/

    I think it is great that you are striving to do something that you hope will increase your faith, and that makes you happy πŸ™‚ I wish you all the luck.

    • monicaspees says:

      Thank you for sharing, Fallon πŸ™‚ I agree that not all the Baptist teachings seem to be firmly backed by the Bible, at least as I understand it (I still don’t understand why dancing is frowned upon), and that any religion has its share of “hypocrites.” But technically we’re all hypocrites since we can’t all be 100 percent in the right 100 percent of the time haha. I know I’m not :/ I think it was Gandhi who said he would have been a Christian if it hadn’t been for all the Christians he knew. I try my best to not focus too much on what other Christians do or don’t do and look instead at the life of Jesus, since he’s the head honcho anyway lol πŸ˜‰
      I saw that article about what the Pope said, and although I don’t agree with everything he says all the time, I do agree that simply giving something up should have a greater purpose than just counting the days until you can have or do that thing again.
      I do appreciate you wishing me luck! We all have moments when we want to improve ourselves and have a positive impact, regardless of religion, and I always enjoy hearing how others strive toward that.

  3. Greetings! I know the feeling, I’m also from a Baptist background but I quit the denomination at some point, became non-denominational, and started attending a Methodist church and I’m investigating Lent … it feels a lot like wandering through a forest with no end in sight and no path to follow. The truth is that I haven’t really bothered to give anything up because I feel like I do most things in moderation and avoid over-indulgence in general. It’s kind of hard to figure out what to give up when most things that are on other people’s list just aren’t on yours – social media, coffee, chocolate/candy, cell phones, etc. That just leaves actual fasting, which would probably worry my family if they didn’t know why I wasn’t eating and I think defeat the purpose if I told them why I was not eating. It’s a tricky balance because we have Jesus saying “be careful not to do your works of righteousness where everyone can see, pray in an inner room and close the door, don’t announce your giving or don’t let one hand know what the other is up to and don’t make it obvious you’re fasting” and yet we live in a virtual world where to some degree our spirituality is expected to be on display and it’s impossible for people to not know. I kind of decided that I’d use Lent as a time to be mindful and dare I say, intentional, about my faith even if it I keep it quiet or on the down-low. I think it’ll be even trickier as I try to do this with a terrible case of writer’s block but I’ll just pray that the Holy Spirit guides me to topics of conversation and interesting insights along the way. I guess what helped me to be curious about Lent was to have hosted an exchange student who was Catholic and learned about how exuberant Spanish-speaking cultures are about this season – check out Semana Santa in Seville to see one of the more famous examples.

    • monicaspees says:

      You make a lot of good points. Like you, I’ve had a lot of thoughts bouncing around in my head about it. When it came down to it, I kept thinking about Jesus’ fasting in the desert for 40 days. Clearly, Jesus didn’t need to strive toward holiness, but in that time he combated temptation and showed how effective it is to “hide the Word in our hearts.” Some friends of mine participated in the Daniel Fast (which I had never heard of, but that includes everyone following it to cut out meat, sugar and basically just eat fruits and vegetables like Daniel and his friends did in the Bible), and the main things I have observed they get from that is appreciating food and learning how to lean on a strong support system of people going through the same thing. I’ve thought about fasting at other times of the year, but in this time preparing for Easter seems like such an appropriate time. Good luck in your Lent endeavor too!

  4. Aunt Robbie says:

    Monica I am very proud of you and to know you. Each time I read something that you have written it amazes me. I’m guilty of remembering you as that sweet little tom boy catching tadpoles. You have grown into a beautiful, smart, and godly young woman. I think it’s awesome that you are choosing to participate in Lent. I for one have no doubt that you’ll have no problem sticking with it. You are very disciplined ( something I believe you get from the Spees side, since I married one I feel qualified to say that). You inspire me! I appreciate and love you!

  5. Micky Bumbar (Lords of the Drinks) says:

    Why not give the all beer diet of these German monks a try once during Lent? http://lordsofthedrinks.com/2016/02/11/the-all-beer-diet-german-monks-created-for-the-46-days-of-lent-fast-before-easter/
    Cheers,
    Micky

  6. simonjkyte says:

    amazing that this piece of adiaphoron remains such an issue

  7. Pingback: Why I’m a Baptist doing Lent: Aftermath | monica spees

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s