Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Where The Path Begins

Today is the first day of Lent. I found out that it started today when a friend asked me yesterday what I was going to give up. Somehow, even though this happens at the same time every year, I thought it started later on in March. Obviously, I hadn't given Lent any thought, let alone what I was going to choose to give up. Should I give up coffee? Sugar? TV? I had 9 hours to decide. At 9pm, I still had no idea. I wanted to give up something that would create more time to make space for God. I wanted it to be something that would require some sacrifice and not necessarily be easy.

So, what does a girl do when she don't know what to do? She googles it. That's right, I googled different ideas of things to give up for Lent. There are lot of ideas, websites and testimonies of what people gave up and how it affected them. One story talked about how a guy gave up wearing shoes unless he absolutely had to. He even went to the extreme of avoiding places where shoes were required. Giving up shoes was not exactly what I had in mind. After reading all of the ideas, I decided to give up two things:

  1. Hitting the snooze button in the morning.
  2. Eating sweets (desserts, candy or anything with unnecessary sugar).
First, I decided to give up hitting the snooze button to learn discipline. It's hard to get out of bed when the sun has not even woken up yet and peaked above the horizon. It's hard to get out of a warm bed into a cold bedroom. Yet, there is something peaceful about mornings. Something where being the first person up when everything else is still and quiet brings a peaceful calm. I know that I like to start my mornings early, yet often choose not to get up when my alarm goes off. Instead, I hit snooze until I simply cannot wait any longer and have to get up to get ready for work. That is not discipline. Choosing to get up the first time the alarm goes off seems small, but little choices develop habits. I want this little choice for the duration of Lent to be a habit that I choose to develop as I learn discipline.

Second, not eating treats or unnecessary sugar is hard. I have a sweet tooth and I like sweet stuff. Again, discipline plays a fairly significant role in this choice for Lent. Eating sweets is the easy thing to do. It's not hard to say, "Why, yes, I would love to have a piece of chocolate or cake or candy." Yet, choosing to say no not only is better for my body, as I'm sure I don't need sweets to survive, it also requires discipline. 

So, I am choosing to do two different things that are not necessary huge, yet have larger implications for my life. I am choosing not to hit the snooze button and start my morning in a quiet, peaceful way. I am choosing not to eat sweets and to make better choices for my what goes into my body. 

But why? Why I am choosing to pursue these seemingly silly habits? Why am I going to give up two things that most people really enjoy, sleep and sweets? Lent is a season of 40 days before Easter where Christ followers choose to pursue a season of soul-searching and repentance.  It is a time for reflection and often a time of refocusing. Some choose to fast, only eating one meal a day. Some choose to give up something that requires significant sacrifice, such as coffee or television. Regardless of what you choose to give up, through sacrifice and reflection, it is a time to refocus and reflection on Christ. So, I am choosing to give up sleeping in later and sweets in order to practice discipline, develop habits and allow more time for reflection and a bit of soul-searching. I am going to choose to be deliberate about setting aside time for God and not filling empty spaces in my day with activities, such as sleeping or munching. 
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