by Katie Rich
Lent is a season unlike any other. It’s a 40 day battle of will power. Even fallen away Catholics, Protestants, and non-Christians can find something enticing about sacrificing something we hold near and dear to our hearts for six weeks. The ambiguous “Lent” seems to be a forbidding character standing before us, its lips curling into a devilish smile, daring us to just try to give up that certain thing for 40 days. Just try. Its doubt in our capabilities infuriates us, and drives us to give up not only chocolate but all sweets. Take that, Lent. Who’s weak now?
We all know the textbook reasons Catholics sacrifice something (or do something extra) for Lent. We are supposed to be fasting in order to share in Christ’s suffering of death on the Cross. Every time we go to eat a chocolate, we should remember, oh that’s right, Jesus died for my sins, and retrieve our hand from the candy dish. But in reality, how often does that happen? More frequently we find ourselves either lamenting the fact that we gave up chocolate in the first place or celebrating our personal victory of will power over the sweet temptation.
The problem is that we think we are giving up distractions that keep us from Christ, but when we take the time to reflect, we will realize it isn’t Facebook or chocolate or not going to the gym every day that is keeping us from Him at all. The only barrier between us and our savior is our very own pride.
I am an extremely non-confrontational person. I will bend over backwards if it means I won’t have to confront someone about a problem. What I’ve come to realize lately, however, is that the person I hate confronting the very most is myself. Denial is such a comfortable place to live. I love telling myself that there isn’t a problem, that everything’s fine. When admitting the existence of a problem is unavoidable, I just pat myself on the back and tell myself that I can do it, that everything is under control. You go, girl. Handle life completely on your own. You don’t need some old God to do anything for you.
Before we know it, we have replaced God with our pride. We worship our very own golden calf, oblivious to the fact that we are still stranded in the desert of sin without an escape plan. We don’t eat chocolate because we are too proud to admit defeat. It is fear of failing our ego rather than failing Christ that keeps our hand out of the candy dish.
This Lent, take a few minutes to sit somewhere quiet. Any quiet place where you can sit alone and uninterrupted will suffice. Ask yourself, what am I hiding? What burdens have you been carrying around with you for days, weeks, maybe even months or years? Have the courage to dig up the ugliest secrets you have hoarded in your heart. Throw it all out on the table, and then give it up to God. Sacrifice, rather than worship, your pride. Be still, and see if God will tell you what to do. One of the most loving parts about Him is His infinite mercy. If you listen closely enough, you will hear Him throw up his hands in excitement, and exclaim, “Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and now is found” (Lk 15:23-24). Come clean with yourself this Lent, and you will surely find reason to slaughter the fattened calf and rejoice, for you have come alive again in Christ.