Our family observes Lent and it’s right around the corner. February 18th it begins and on April 2nd it ends. Our church here in Colorado Springs had suggested last year that we follow Lent. They provided formal church services to begin Lent and to end it. I’m glad we took the time to observe it.
Why did our family observe Lent last year and why we will again:
Our church present Lent as a time of year to give up something that distracts/occupies our time. Some thing that takes time away from the Lord. In place of the distractions, it was suggested that we prayed. We just moved to the area when this challenge was given and our hearts were in need of some tending to.
I had no idea how much of an impact this sort of observance could have on our lives!
What did we give up:
First we prayed and considered the cost of the Lent fast. Then we made the commitment. There was no forcing and much grace if needed. This fast was not something we’d destroy our relationships over.
I gave up digital gaming/social media like Facebook.
My husband gave up fast food.
My oldest daughter gave up snacking, flavored drinks, and TV.
My youngest daughter gave up meat.
How did observing Lent affect the family:
My youngest daughter’s experience:
She said it was hard to give up meat. There were a few vacations and birthday celebrations that she stuck to her fast with. She felt like she was denying herself enough food and made her realize what homeless people might feel like. It was only a small thing that she gave up but some people don’t have that choice. She learned that she could rely on the Lord for strength. During one week in the beginning, she wanted to give up and eat meat. She said she prayed for help and she was able to complete the whole Lent fast.
My oldest daughter’s experience:
She said it was hardest to give up snacking. She said that she hadn’t realized how much she used snacking to comfort herself throughout the day. She said she was hungry all the time and as a teenager that didn’t surprise me. In the place of snacks, TV, and flavored drinks she’d turn to her iPod or read some books. She would pray that the Lord would inspire her with crafting ideas or ways to entertain herself. During meals she would eat a larger portion and drink tons of water. She lost weight even though that was not a goal or needed. She tells me today that she gained back every ouch.:) She felt healthy during the fast and now. She said the first few days were the hardest to endure. To help cope, she built up a hidden stock pile of goodies for the day that Lent ended. Her pile included: 1 Twinkie, 1 Gatorade, 1 bottle of Coke, 1 can of Mountain Dew, 1 small bag of chips, 1 jar full of chocolate candies, and some chocolates that she purchased in Washington DC (Coco Salsa). She learned that even when life “sucks” it gets better.
My husband’s experience:
My husband went into Lent with a habit of buying his lunch from a fast food place. He had to stop that habit and plan his lunches ahead of time. Leftovers were always eaten during that time. He would be out and about when he got hungry and would save himself for a meal at home. We saved a few bucks during his fast but he didn’t spend much to begin with.
To be honest, I didn’t think my choice of items to fast from was a big deal. That is until about a week into it. I didn’t know that I had been pacifying myself in front of cell phone games and Facebook posts. I was good with the false accomplishment I was feeling from my games and by other’s posts online. I can remember getting so stinking frustrated over not being able to use my electronic pacifiers. I was pissed off! I crankily prayed that God would step into this void in my life. Later that night, got the inspiration to make a quilt for my Grandma. Queen sized quilt. I figured that she’d love my craft. I sketched some plans and sewed a “Tree of Life” quilt. Like a good grandma… she did love it. My biggest take away from Lent last year was that I wasn’t creating or living like I was created for. That fast showed me that the Lord had so much more for me. All I had to do was log off and go get it.
The whole family benefit:
Lent 2014 was the first time our family had practiced denying ourselves for a long period of time.
We learned that we could actually NOT get what we wanted and be okay. Honestly, it’s been easier to say no to things that we know are a distraction. We learned that the Lord had our backs and would provide comforts and love us through temper tantrums. That was a big one. During Lent, our senses were turned on and our hearts were opened. The months post that fast have been great. We have all moved forward from stumbling blocks uncovered during Lent. Personally, I am committing to be a creator with the gifts that the Lord put in me.
So what is on your heart that you need to fast from? Interested in Lent? If you have never fasted from something over a month, give it a try!