Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why I'm Not Fasting For Lent

Going into this Lenten season, I knew that I wanted to observe the 40 days of Lent, but was very unsure in what way. As I've been working on getting organized and using my planner to keep my life in order, I thought perhaps following a fairly traditional route would fit the routine that I've been finding soothes my anxiety.

After a (very) brief period of thought, I began looking at fasting between sunrise and sunset, with the exception of two small snacks. As I've been working on eating healthier, I thought (mistakenly) that this would be a good way to continue eating healthy and jumpstart a bit of weight loss.

Well! If you've done any reading on Lenten fasting, the intent behind it is key. One fasts in an event such as Lent out of a hunger to grow closer to God, a hunger so strong for His word that one would forego food itself in the pursuit of quelling the desire.

My intent, however, was one of doing something I'd never done before, and hoping it would help my vanity and weight loss efforts. I did attempt a full day on Ash Wednesday, and made it all the way until lunch time. Much of the time I was focused on the food I was not to be eating, and the rest of the time I was thinking of the fact that I was doing it for entirely the wrong reasons.

After several hours of deep thought, I declared to myself that I was no longer fasting, because it felt very wrong and while I certainly want my faith to grow from the time of Lent, I definitely don't have the hunger that drives a true fast. In the course of these realizations, I did land on how I am observing Lent this year.

As I posted previously, I'm not sharing what I'm doing for Lent, but it definitely meets better criteria! It is something that I can do daily, it is not currently part of my daily routine, requires sacrifice (though not a physical one) and will deepen my faith.

I am not posting this as any kind of shame on those who choose to fast for Lent for any reason. This blog is simply about my personal reasons, and I thought I would share. The celebration of Lent (or not) is a personal decision, and is not something I would ever judge another person by. 

Do you typically do the same thing each year to observe Lent? Do you take a while to decide how you'll observe, or is part of a yearly routine for you? I'm very interested in how others arrive at what sort of observation they will use!

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  1. Kristin, I think you're absolutely right -- Lenten sacrifices are all about the intent behind them. I had big plans for Lent - give up yelling/reacting in anger at my son -- but it's been really hard to change old patterns. I guess all I can do it try, but I feel doubly awful when I react badly -- not only am I yelling at my (mostly) sweet boy, but now I'm breaking my Lent promise too. Argh...

    1. I think that's a very noble thing to do! Learning to control my temper is something I have to work on daily, and there are sadly more days that I lose it than I control it. It's slowly starting to come into balance, and hopefully soon the good days will outweigh the bad. I think the years around your kiddo's age are especially frustrating, especially when your kiddo acts a bit older than their actual age. It makes it so easy to forget they're only 3 or 5 or 11, and then when they actually act their age, we lose patience and get frustrated. I hope you end up feeling gratified and closer to where you want to be this Lenten season, Sarah!


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