I thought about not observing Lent this year. Not because I suddenly found it unimportant, but mostly because I just wasn't in the mood. A lame reason, I know.
As Ash Wednesday approached, I found myself whining, "This whole school year is a sacrifice. Do I really need to take on the burden of sacrificing something else?" You didn't realize I was such a martyr, did you? A wallowing, self-pitying martyr. Meh.
Wednesday came and went, and I still rebelled against observing it. Next year, I thought. When my life is easier, when my thoughts are more coherent. To put it bluntly, I was clarifying my faith journey in my own terms: I'll be ready to be spiritual when I feel like it, thankyouverymuch.
Then someone asked me, "What are you giving up for Lent this year?" and the very question settled heavy on my heart. All the changes this year has brought me aren't really sacrifices. They're just changes. They're transitions. I haven't surrendered much of anything. It is precisely because of how I feel--or lack thereof--that Lent is important for me this year. Now, more than ever, I should be asking myself how well is my Christian life functioning? How well do I love others? In the midst of this upheaval, what is God teaching me? And do I rejoice in those lessons?
I can tell you that my ability to rejoice hasn't been strong these last few months. If the measure of true character is what happens to you when life isn't easy...well, let's say that my character still needs work.
Even though Lent means different things to different people--an archaic tradition, a religious observance, a ritual of superstition--I like to think it's an appropriate time to ask the important questions, to reflect, to see the big picture, particularly as we move towards Easter Sunday. I'm realizing bit by bit, it's about making adjustments in my attitude, however minor or major. It's about being deliberate in making a change.
This year, when I asked myself what needed to change, my first response was, "I'm living in change, and that's good enough, darn it."
Then I was reminded to ask again. What needs to change? And the answer was quite apparent.