Monday, March 06, 2006
A Lenten Protest
Lent is the time when the Church historically observes a period of waiting in the weeks leading up to Easter. This time is to remind us of life before Christ, to encourage us to reevaluate our commitment to God, and to deprive ourselves of some necessity. So this year for Lent I am giving up… nothing.
I am not fasting from anything, I am not conducting extra rituals or spending more time reading the Bible, and I am not quitting any habits. I have followed this portion of the Lenten tradition in the past. Chocolate, caffeine, television, movies, and others have made the list of things I have given up (or attempted to do so) for that very long six weeks. I believe one year I fasted from Starburst jellybeans. But this year is different.
Perfectionism is one of my greatest struggles. It affects and influences my work, studies, relationships, and communion with Christ. I decided that I do not need one more thing for which to seek perfection, another task to make me crazy for fear I will not wholly accomplish it. Giving up anything would at this point induce me to obsess over the work of that fast.
If Lent is meant to further entrench the works mentality and fear of imperfection that I hold so closely, then I will not participate. If wearing an ashen cross on my forehead will equate me to a Pharisee because I desire to flaunt my piety, then I benefit no one from that display. If depriving myself from a pleasure leads me to find a substitution less healthy, then I have really fasted from nothing. If Lent is intended instead to spur believers to practice gratitude for salvation and to observe waiting in hope and expectation, then I will do so.
So in some ways I am giving up something. I am giving up on the suggestion that I need to be or do more than I am to be pleasing to God. I wait and I hope and I offer thanks. But for this year, that is all.