photo of a cross drawn in a pile of ash

What Are You Giving Up for Lent?

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a season within the church year in which some Christians chose to intentionally abstain from something for forty days in preparation for Good Friday and Easter. The idea is that giving up something ordinary forces us to pay a different kind of attention to what God is doing in and around us. 

What I’m Giving Up for Lent

When I have given up alcohol for Lent in the past, for example, I became aware of how much I thought I needed a glass of wine in order to slow down at the end of the day. Abstaining invited me to turn toward God’s love as an even deeper invitation to rest. 

When I gave up shopping, I saw the ways I have allowed a culture of instant gratification and consumerism to shape my habits. Abstaining invited me to turn toward God as the one who abundantly provides for me, even when I don’t get what I want.

For me this year, Lent will be a time of intentional listening. I’m both limiting what I listen to (giving up podcasts when I’m doing tasks around the house) and committing to a time of intentional listening to anything the Spirit might have for me on a daily basis. I might have to experiment with this, but I’m planning to start with three five-minute breaks at the beginning, middle, and end of my workday, in which I close my eyes and sit in silence, listening to what God’s Spirit might have to say. I expect there will be a lot of silence. I also expect that I will become more attuned to the voice of the Spirit throughout my whole day.

Fasting Is a Means of Grace

As Dallas Willard wrote years ago, fasting—from food or wine or listening to podcasts or anything else—is never a requirement of the spiritual life. But it can be a means of grace in which we are invited into more awareness of God’s constant presence, abundant provision, and abiding love.

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