I am not one to do things the normal way. I am always trying to find a different perspective on something, always reading, learning and analyzing how different situations and experiences are a part of my life's journey.
This became my thought process around the purpose of Lent. Recently, I have started seeing the messages appearing in my social media feeds on how people are giving up Facebook, coffee and chocolate for lent.
My thoughts began to question, "What do I need to give up?" "Why should I give up anything?" "What is the purpose of giving up?"
Lent 2016 is from February 10th - March 24th. A quick study on Lent taught me that it is a dedicated season where you choose to reflect, repent and pray. It commemorates the 40 days of fasting and temptation of Jesus in the desert. It is a time of renewal and preparation.
For me to give up something that is a daily habit in my life, would require too much time spent focusing on myself - I know this about myself. The thought process for Lent is: if we are willing to give something up - then we spend that time focusing on God. The idea of giving up does not help me in what the purpose of Lent stands for.
So instead of giving up, what if I choose to give?
This isn't something that I really want to share publicly but I think that it is a practical example of how we can bless others and renew our spirit and prepare our hearts for the sacrifice of Easter. So here it goes:
A couple of years ago I choose to give for Lent - instead of give up. Every day for the 40 days of Lent I sent a letter of encouragement to people I knew.
I started by purchasing enough supplies for 40 days- note cards, stamps and locating mailing addresses. Each day I hand-wrote a note telling the recipient why I was thankful for them, words of encouragement, in some cases - a request for forgiveness and a special verse. As I wrote to each individual I would pray for them, after I sealed the envelope and attached the stamp I would lay my hands on the letter and pray for the individual and that the words in letter would become truth in their hearts.
I have to admit that this act of giving for Lent was great the first week as I wrote to friends and encouraged them, the first letters were easily written and mailed. Then it started to get more difficult - as God would lay it on my heart to write to people that I hadn't had contact with for years, for people that I had to ask for forgiveness and those that were a part of my past that I didn't want to be reminded of.
What I thought of as an act of giving became so much more than that. I am thankful for the healing in my own heart, and that it truly became a time of renewal and preparation for my spirit. The lessons I learned and the blessings that were given and received were far more than anything I could have anticipated or expected.
May I encourage you to consider the act of giving for Lent this year.
~ Please leave a comment below and let me know what they Lent season means to you and how it makes a difference in your life.