Lent: Giving Up What Doesn’t Serve

Letting Go of what doesn't serve We are in the special liturgical season of Lent now, and for many people, it is a time of giving something up. That may mean giving up a habit one wishes to break, ranging from swearing to promiscuity to eating sweets, or it can mean sacrificing for forty days something one likes very much, like listening to an iPod or eating meat on Fridays. Some believers even go to extremes, inflicting pain on themselves to prove their devotion to Christ.

I’ve heard a number of explanations about how the attitude of sacrifice can benefit us. Some say each time we want to eat meat on a Friday or listen to our iPod, it is a reminder of the pain of Christ’s sacrifice. Others look at the period of Lent as extra fuel to help us break the hold that sin has on us, particularly in the form of bad habits. But what if Lent was more?

I’ve been thinking about the Lenten season differently this year after I saw a Facebook friend comment that his family was giving up “smallness of vision.” This could be interpreted a number of ways, but to me, this means giving up what doesn’t serve or what no longer fits my life. Some aspects of life that no longer serve me include:

  • giving up a narrow definition of God and instead, embracing the Mystery that seems to seek me out in the most unusual and unexpected places.
  • letting go of fear and uncertainty and instead, acknowledging that One greater than me has my back.
  • sacrificing cynicism and distrust and instead, seeing the living Christ in everyone.
  • surrendering the need to judge and instead, accepting that diversity with unity is possible, even preferable.
  • forfeiting views of ministry that seem to be focused on results more than people and instead, ministering with God to those who are part of my daily life and work.

By looking at the ways I’ve made myself, my life, or my God too small, I can let go and broaden my vision. This Lenten sacrifice will do more than help me lose weight or break a bad habit. Giving up that which no longer serves me enlarges my worldview and transforms my response to the Father, Son, and Spirit. By letting go of “smallness of vision,” I can see more clearly the work of the Triune God in my life and in the world, and I’m inspired and energized to be a part of it.

~by Nan Kuhlman

 

4 comments so far

  1. Nan, I love this! Particularly your idea that “giving up” things can enlarge you rather than diminish you.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      John,
      Lent is one of those liturgical seasons that I think is often misunderstood, perhaps because we hold the view that any sacrifice worth making must be painful. That doesn’t mean that the things I see worth giving up are easy, but by taking a larger view of Lent, it holds the possibility of transformation that lasts more than 40 days. I think God is more interested in transformation than in self-flagellation.

      Thanks for everything,
      Nan

  2. Ada Wilson on

    Ms. Kuhlman, your post spoke volumes to me! Your words enlarged my world by enlarging my God – with me and other people in it. And this will extend well past the Lent Season. Love and Blessings to you and all of your future endeavors.

    • Nan Kuhlman on

      Ada,

      What kind words of encouragement! I’m glad that you’ve captured the vision of Lent as a period of profound transformation. Thanks for taking time to comment!

      Nan


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