In Which I Educate Protestants About Lent
1. These thoughts will be in list-form and only mildly edited because my brain feels foggy today.
2. The brain-fog may or may not have something to do with the giant basket of chips and queso I consumed last night (corn products mess with my brain). Or maybe sinuses (which also mess with my brain).
3. Today is Ash Wednesday. As a kid, raised in the Catholic Church in Catholic Schools, we totally observed this season.
4. As an adult in a Protestant, non-denominational church, people are all, “What’s Lent? Is that under the Law? Didn’t Jesus free us from that?”
5. That makes me a little sad, because I think Lent is important. However, due to the brain-fog, I will not try to explain all the reasons why I think it’s important. Just know, I think it’s important.
6. I’ve had “Lent Begins” written today on my calendar for months. Last year, I totally missed it. I counted back 40 days from Easter Sunday and must have counted wrong and wrote “Lent Begins” a week later than it actually was.
7. Thus, I never observed Lent last year, because I missed the Opening Ceremonies.
8. Dear Protestants: That was a joke. There are no Opening Ceremonies for Lent.
9. The year before last, I had a grandiose idea to have my family observe Lent by doing one small kind deed every day for 40 days. I was also going to blog about it. The first day, we made homemade bread for our neighbor. The second day, we all called grandma and grandpa and told them we loved them and missed them. The third day, we did nothing. I never blogged about any of it. The end.
10. I think the year before, I gave up Facebook.
11. Or maybe that was my brother who gave up Facebook, and I just thought, “That’s a great idea. I should do that.” I honestly cannot remember.
12. As a kid, I always gave up chocolate.
13. So, clearly, my Lenten Track Record is stellar.
14. Dear Protestants: Keeping track of your Lenten Sacrifices is not recommended.
15. I have a problem with wanting to sacrifice too much during Lent. I look around at all the things that distract me from being close to God (which is pretty much everything) and I think, “I should give this up.” And also, I look at everything that complicates my life and leads to imbalance (which is everything else) and I think, “I should also give this up.” And then I look at everything bad in my diet and I think, “And also, this.” And then I look at everything everyone else is giving up and I think, “I should give these things up, as well.” Finally, I look at my poor family and I think, “You should give these things up with me. Let’s do this as a family. It will be so fun.”
16. Dear Protestants: Lent is not supposed to be “fun.”
17. The “everything that’s bad in my diet” usually ends up being more of a “Let’s try to lose 10 lbs.” rather than the intended, “Let’s prepare our hearts to commemorate the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
18. Dear Protestants: Using Lent as a 40-Day Fitness Challenge is a misuse of the Lenten Season.
19. This year, I have another grandiose idea: WE SHOULD GO ON A BUYING FREEZE! You know, I’m up to my eyeballs in my Declutter 2014. And I’ve decided we have more than enough stuff. (This is actually the most accurate statement in my blog post thus far.) Other than replacing food that we’ve eaten and things like soap and shampoo and laundry detergent, we will go 40 days without buying anything new. And each night at dinner, we will add something to our family Gratitude Journal. This will help us focus less on what we want and recognize all the ways God has already provided for us.
20. (And also, I want to observe a REAL Sabbath each week. And also do kind things for people each day. And also give up sugar. And give up wine. And coffee. And also serve the homeless. And also give up all forms of screens.)
21. See how that happens? Too much sacrifice!!!!!!!
22. In my old church in Florida (also Protestant/non-denominational), we used to have an annual 30-Day-Church-Wide-Media Fast. It was not during Lent, that I recall. But it was in the mid-90s, before the Social Media/smart phone age. At that time, a “Media Fast” only meant giving up watching TV and reading the news paper. (Remember when the news came on actual paper?) Even back then, it was a challenge. Giving up media in 2014 would be downright archaic.
23. So, back to my idea of a Lenten Buying Freeze. I have some issues. Lenten Issue #1: This year, Spring Break falls during Lent. (Dear Protestants: I am not suggesting in any way that Jesus should have consulted the school calendar before scheduling the Crucifixion.) Anyway, because we are headed to warmer climates this Spring Break, it means we will need warmer climate attire. All my kids have outgrown last year’s summer clothes. Truly. They have none. And by none, I actually mean NONE. If we do not buy new clothes, will be walking the beach in hoodies and Ugg boots. So, that means shopping for all three kids in the next few weeks, in the midst of Lenten Buying Freeze.
24. Lenten Issue #2: Yesterday, Jon spilled approximately 20 oz. of ice water on the keyboard of our family computer. It’s dead. And by dead, I mean, DEAD. Not replacing the computer will mean everyone will need to use my computer every day for the next 40 days. And I’m sorry, but that’s a Lenten sacrifice I am not willing to make. (I have my hand on my hip and I’m doing the head-bob while I say this.)
25. Lenten Issue #3: I may or may not have failed to tell the children about the Lenten Buying Freeze. Surprises of this nature don’t go over well with my children. Especially when the Lenten Buying Freeze coincides beautifully with my reinstatement of Monthly Allowances, which means, the kids actually have their own spending money for the first time in about a year.
26. This morning, I alluded briefly to Elliana (age 7) that there may be a Lenten Buying Freeze starting today. She looked up from her American Girl Doll Catalogue where, incidentally, she was circling everything she wanted with a Sharpie, and said, “But mom, I can’t stop thinking about everything that I want. I tried and I just can’t do it.”
27. But as we already established, Lent is not supposed to be fun.
28. So, there you go, fellow Protestants. Everything you need to know about Lent and why it’s so important to me.
You make me laugh.
Number 15- I can sooooooo relate to that one. I just had almost that exact scenario playing out in my head over the last week. My Lenten track record is atrocious. This may or may not have something to do with me still being wishy washy on whether I want to continue in the Catholic faith, or find a new church. I really wanted to participate in Lent this year so after going through the list of all the things I should give up- I came up with giving up yelling. I seem to always resort to it when I’m tired, frustrated, or feel like the kids aren’t listening to me and I’m hoping that not yelling during Lent will help me to better express myself tooooo my kids so that they in turn can learn to better express themselves and not yell at one another whenever they get frustrated or tired or cranky.
LOL Oh Sandy, I have followed your blog from Kauai to Arizona and still find you to be a most delightful writer, right up there with my all time favorite Erma Bombeck. Keep writing, about Lent, or lent or storage issues or dieting or kids, whatever you write, I devour. Thank you God for putting Sandy in our lives.
Being raised Catholic and struggling with Lenten sacrifice, I found your post so funny. (Maybe I shouldn’t.) This year, I’m staying simple. For x minutes a day, I am unplugging (no phone, no social media, no book (ok, the bible is allowed), only silence. I started with 5 minutes. SO EASY. 10 minutes today. I’m hoping it will be good and that I will learn the art of reflection. Hopefully I will see myself as God does and maybe figure out what he wants in my life.
By the way, in searching the history of Lent (so I can discuss with my high school Methodist Sunday school), I discovered Lent is a non-denominational observance. It was founded before the church was divided between the East and the West. Interesting how only some faiths, especially the Catholics, held on to it. Sad really that it’s been let go.
May God bless you and your family in this season.
I love Number 8. I would have baked for that. And I’m not trying to be irreverent, I just think as who has never observed Lent, I would have to have some sort of starting signal/point/advice, etc.
Mindy–actually, the day before Lent begins, some people celebrate Fat Tuesday. We did not celebrate this as a kid, but lots of people do. They eat this amazing cake with a plastic baby Jesus in it. I think some people also bake a donut-like thing. I’m out of my realm of Lenten Knowledge right now, but I do recall once eating one of those Plastic Baby Jesus Cakes and it was de LISH. 🙂
“As someone who” – I really, REALLY need to start proofreading my comments 😉