Ash Wednesday is here. When I was coming up, this was one of the five days a year my Catholic friends actually went to church. They'd always come back with a cross made from ashes smeared across their foreheads so they could flaunt to everyone else how Christian they were and how committed they were to growing closer to Christ. That's how I felt about it anyway.
I'm not condemning Ash Wednesday here. I actually appreciate the meaning behind the practice (a symbol of penance and mortality) and believe it is important to be reminded of just how desperately we need the Man upstairs. But I do believe it should be celebrated for just that and nothing else.
I heard someone the other day say that they were "doing Lent" this year. What the heck does that even mean? A while later while I was browsing the web, I came across a piece entitled Secular Lent. Seriously? I know our culture is full of fast food restaurants, luxuries and conveniences, but you can't just "do Lent" by giving up one of your routine, unhealthy indulgences. I get the idea behind a secular lent: giving up something to focus on the bigger picture, but the true meaning gets lost somewhere. I'm not trying to sound like a religious scholar here; I'm just simply saying that if you're going to practice the true meaning of Lent, go for it!! If you have no idea what Lent is and you walk in the office with a cross of ashes on your forehead, you need to do a little more "church."
With all of that being said, YES! I AM "DOING LENT" this year! I am not practicing the religious tradition to seek some type of favor merit from God [I believe we are saved by faith alone] or to convince my friends that I am some super spiritual person, but I am doing this simply to grow in faith, discipline, strength, and to be a better person for myself, my children, and my family.
I have succumbed to the overly secular and commercialized tradition and have decided to "give something up" for Lenten season: passing judgment on others. That's right! I have a habit of judging a book by its cover, and it's time for me to change. Oh, come on now! So you're perfect? Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't get the memo. Well I'm not perfect (in case you didn't know), and I'd like to use this time to pour into my spirit the things that really matter on this side of heaven, and rid myself of all of that yucky stuff that won't save me a spot on the other side. My little sister once said to me (in her very snide and facetious tone of voice), Oh, so you're judging me? My bad...I didn't know your name was Jesus." She usually has something smart to say (and I usually ignore her), but that time she was absolutely right.
As mothers (and fathers) we should also remember that it is so important to set the foundation for our children. This season, I will be teaching mine the purpose and importance of fasting. Besides, Mr. President #1 has already asked me about lent: "What is that dirty stuff on her forehead?" Often times, we have to take our eyes off of the things of this world and focus on things that really matter. When our journey in this life is all said and done, nothing we left behind will matter where we're going.
Look...we've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so who am I to judge? This is precisely the reason I will be "doing Lent" this season. What I hope to gain is a fruitful experience, rejuvenation and enlightening, with humility and divine guidance. A clean heart and attitude are important for this journey, so expect me to be a bit kinder in the coming weeks. Today, I won't have a cross made from ashes smeared across my forehead, but just know where my heart is. Happy Fasting!