Wednesday, March 9 marks the beginning of the Lent Season on the church calendar. For many of us, Lent- the 40 days leading up to Easter- come and go without much thought. Maybe you’ve been told to fast or give up something, but like that January new year’s resolution it just doesn’t happen so you have given up on the idea of fasting. Maybe you have heard the sermon that Lent is not so much about giving something up, but choosing to do something intentional in those 40 days, but again, with your full plate and (let’s just be real honest here) maybe a lack of desire to add one more ‘to-do’, you opt not to fully dive into Lent.
The purpose of Lent is to be a season of fasting, self-denial, Christian growth, penitence, conversion, and simplicity. Lent, which comes from the Teutonic (Germanic) word for springtime, can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out those things which hinder our corporate and personal relationships with Jesus Christ and our service to him. Thus it is fitting that the season of Lent begin with a symbol of repentance: placing ashes mixed with oil on one’s head or forehead. However, we must remember that our Lenten disciplines are supposed to ultimately transform our entire person: body, soul, and spirit. Our Lenten disciplines are supposed to help us become more like Christ.
May I suggest an alternative to giving up something or feeling the need to add one more chore to your chore chart this Lent? As parents, we have a daily responsibility to care for our children, and to model love for Christ-no matter how imperfect or fragmented our ability is to do so. Our kids see all the good and bad in that. All the hugs and kisses, all the demands and reprimands, they see much of the frustration and exhaustion, lack of patience, and also our attempts at being good parents, strong parents, involved parents, loving parents.
So as you go about your daily tasks- consider reflecting on this question- is there anything in my life hindering me from being more like Jesus? As you make meals for the family, carpool or go on outings, commute to work, eat dinner together, share bedtime snuggles and nightly prayers, clean the house and attend the sporting events…let these be the moments for Christ to speak into your life…to transform your thoughts, your attitudes, your words, your actions.
At the end of the day, I am thankful for grace. It is what helps me sleep at night and get up in the morning, because I know, no matter how I have failed or succeeded in that day to be a good example for my kids, and to live my life fully for Jesus, He loves me and forgives me and calls me His own. During the Lent Season, similar to that of Advent in preparing for Christ’s coming, I want to be more acutely aware of that grace. As I prepare to mark Christ’s death and resurrection on Easter Weekend, and the impact that has on my own life, I want my soul to be searched, the dust in the deepest corners of my heart to be cleared, that soul spring cleaning to take place, so that in the ordinary moments of my day I can faithfully live out and pass along a legacy of devotion to the Heavenly Father who loves me, the Son who knows me, and the Holy Spirit who moves me.