LENT: Letting go of me, to grasp onto Him
I grew up as a committed Catholic, attending parochial school in my early elementary years and remaining active right up until my conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love the Catholic people; and my religious roots brought me on the path to Him.
This Wednesday marks the start of Lent, 40 days dedicated to sacrifice and repentance that lead up to Easter. Lent is practiced by many Christians, including Catholics, and though Mormons don’t typically practice Lent, I do … and some of my friends and family members join me on the journey.
Sacrifice is defined as “the act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else more important or worthy.”
Lent offers a scheduled opportunity to sacrifice something in remembrance of the Savior’s great and atoning sacrifice for us. For many believers, a personal sacrifice during Lent focuses on giving up a sin or weakness (for example, cutting out sugar, swearing, procrastinating or social media). It can also mean sacrificing time for self in order to give more time to Him.
There’s another way of looking at Lent too. Instead of giving something up, many Lent participants add in something worthy and of great value. For example, starting a new habit, increasing commitment or making a positive change (think increased scripture study, more church/temple attendance, deepening prayers and meditation or starting up a gratitude journal).
The way I see it, lent is one way of letting go of me and my weaknesses in order to grasp onto Him and His strength.
Perhaps that’s why one of my favorite scriptures is, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). I genuinely want to decrease – because, frankly, I tend to get in the way! We know that He is “the way, the truth and the life”; so it makes sense that I should let go of me and grasp onto Him (John 14:6).
And like all attempts to love, honor and more perfectly obey Him, we are abundantly blessed for our efforts. By specifically giving up or adding in something for Him, our minds and spirits are more focused. Plus, we become more like Him as we control our bodies and polish our spirits. This week, our family’s scripture to memorize is: “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” – Proverbs 16:32
I love the second half about “he that ruleth his spirit.” When I prayerfully select a challenge for Lent, I see ways I can better train my spirit to be in tune with His. It takes conscious effort, it’s meant to be challenging and it is completely worth the work.
Looking for Lent ideas? As Lent participants go straight to the Source through prayer, the Spirit will reveal custom-tailored suggestions. The Spirit will identify areas that need strengthening, sanctifying or simply changing. But, just for some inspiration, here are a few ideas:
- One of my besties gave up yelling. She had noticed her voice climbing in volume and intensity too often as she wrangled her rowdy little ones, so she purposely sacrificed succumbing to the shouting snare. In turn, she’s noticed the Spirit more frequently felt in her home.
- Last year my little girls gave up lying in bed and talking to each other for hours before falling asleep; and the habit continues today. This ensures more sleep and happier people in our home!
- One year, I decided to only pop on social media if I was going to use it to share the Gospel. It saved me significant time from mindless scrolling and greatly improved the quality of messages I put into the world.
- One family decided to add in service and decrease selfishness. They kept track of their service by putting out a jar and adding in tokens for each act.
- This year, I plan to add in better quality listening and love. I want to make sure my children know they are heard (that means eye contact, still hands and open heart) and that they know they’re loved individually (that means one-on-one hugs, whispers of encouragement and admiration, and small moments with intentional messages).
Of course, the habits honed during Lent can stay with us much longer than 40 days! When continued, these habits blossom into spiritual growth, influencing our entire lives and even our eternity.
“If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us,” said Elder Larry R. Lawrence (“What Lack I Yet?” October 2015 General Conference).
So, are you willing to give Lent a try this year?
If so, I’d LOVE to hear you’re Lent goals! (Plus, sharing often solidifies the commitment.)
Do tell – what are you adding in or taking out to bring you closer to Christ!?