For years (well, I guess I'm old enough to say "decades") I spent the forty-and-some-odd days of Lent denying myself one or two indulgences. No candy. No swearing. No French fries. And our family would eat fish on Fridays. And I would compare notes with everyone on what they were giving up. And that's the thing. For so long I looked at it as "giving up" something, making some supposed sacrifice à la New Years resolution with the sole purpose of patting myself on the back, possibly publicly. **cue flashback to Lent 1997 when I ate that Jamaican beef patty, scolded self for forgetting, and then proceeded to finish Jamaican beef patty**
But after a lot of reading, observing and engaging in conversations in the months leading up to Lent 2014, fasting became so much less about me and so much more about letting God move. Everything I read said "prayer and fasting"; one did not happen without the other. I stopped thinking I was attempting to identify with Christ's sufferings (come on, not eating fries and refraining from saying the f-word are pretty weak analogies for the cross, I think.). Instead, I aimed to develop focus. Meaning keeping quiet, staying humble, sharpening my prayer life and honing in on specific intentions I was offering for the season.
So ya, i followed a very strict diet for six weeks, but I also talked to Him more and listened more. And He spoke and He moved.
It was beautiful. I don't really know how else to describe it. Something just changed when I stopped doing it for or at in exchange for with.
So maybe try something new this year. Keep your Lenten commitment as planned, whether avoiding a single food item/behaviour or getting all Daniel about it. But maybe start a dialogue with God, chatting with Him a little more every day. Something like that.
I wish you an amazing Lent.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8 NKJV)