Inspired by David-the-Artist-Pastor's blog, I decided to actually participate in Lent this year.
What is Lent?
Lent is the practice of Christians to give something up for the 40 days prior to Easter. It starts on Ash Wednesday (the day after Fat Tuesday) and ends on Easter Sunday. It represents the 40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness.
So, what are you giving up?
People typically give up meat. (As a vegetarian, that's a low bar for me.) Others give up creature comforts they love (chocolate, lattes, etc.) Others give up things they feel they shouldn't do (smoking, swearing). It seemed to me that if I did this it should be something that bears no resemblance to a new years resolution and something significant to me personally where I am right now in my life.
Ahem, so what are you giving up?
A little context...over the past few years I've been practicing contemplative prayer and meditation. The idea of both is to step our of our normal flow of thoughts and simply be still on the inside and notice God's presence. In this practice, I've become very aware of the litany of thoughts in my head and how many of them have to do with stuff in the past I can't change or stuff in the future that may not even happen. (This blog is merely a small fraction of what goes on up there...smile.)
I love Rick Warren's take on meditation: "When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that's called worry. When you think about God's Word over and over in your mind, that's meditation. If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate!"
Until I read that paragraph, I had never equated worry and meditation, but there seems to be a theme. Contemplative prayer is also called "centering prayer" with the idea that you center yourself in the present moment where God is rather than having your mind in the past (remembering/regreting) or future (planning/worrying).
Which brings me to my commitment for Lent. My commitment is that for forty days I'm giving up worry. Each time I notice that my thoughts are centered on what might happen in the future, I'll trust God with the future and bring my thoughts back to the present.
Um, that sort of seems impossible...
I'm actually not going for perfection with this. I'm going for intention. There are millions of thoughts. I know I can't catch them all. But when I notice, I plan to not spend time on worry. To tangibly trust that God has it covered.
Nancy-the-Insightful has a lovely practice of wearing her ring on the wrong finger to remind her of things. I plan to wear a bracelet to remind me. (Shasta gave me a really pretty one yesterday that is small enough that I can wear it all the time, but each time it hits my line of sight I will be reminded.) It is also light (both in weight and color) and that seems significant somehow.
Side note on worry...
When Jesus spoke about worry (in the book of Matthew 6: 25-34) He uses the examples of food and clothes. We live in a country that has abundance of both, so it would seem that we wouldn't think about either. And yet the magazine I just bought? All about food and clothes. (I'm recycling it to kick off Lent!)