Giving Up Should for Lent

I have an unofficial goal (call it an intention) of posting to the blog each weekday, with Friday being a short roundup of links I found interesting throughout the week. But that’s not always possible, or even feasible. Sometimes there isn’t anything to say, and anything I do would be forced. Sometimes my kids are sick. Like, today.

So instead I want to share this article about reading a book a week… or more to the point, not reading a book a week. And how that practice of “Not” takes on a special significance during the season of Lent:

The tradition of Lent lies in direct contrast to our culture’s belief in resolutions, our quick proclamations of will and self that are meant more for our personal gain than a real change of heart. And I need, as St. Augustine put it, a “new pure heart”; I believe that my reading habits reflect my own heart’s current needs, ones that resolutions bent on my own success cannot touch.

This article really spoke to me. As I shared in this post/sermon, during Lent I am letting go of my pursuits at excellence and intentionality, noble though they may be, or not. Instead, I am practicing contentment, even radical self-acceptance. Which sounds self-centered and very me-me-me but is, I’m finding, the exact opposite.


5 thoughts on “Giving Up Should for Lent

  1. It reminds me a bit of the saying that the definition of fanaticism is redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your goal.

    It can be challenging, though, to find that balance of maintaining commitments and continually re-assessing one’s current, ever-shifting world. Which commitments are still valid? Which ones are a pain in the tuchus but will, in the long run, improve the quality of one’s life? And which need to give way, either temporarily or for good, to better support today’s needs?

    • And I guess a corollary to that last question is: if the commitment is to set aside temporarily, what is your evidence procedure to know if/when it is beneficial to return to it?

      (A side tangent not directly relevant to the entry: one of the hardest things about giving up certain commitments is when the release of them accompanies the acknowledgment that one is also letting go of the dream that the commitment was originally designed to achieve….)

  2. Grace says:

    The Episcopal Church’s congregational vitality initiative just posted some similar on “giving up Lent for Lent”: how churches can abandon exhausting program in favor of practices that actually feed their members:

  3. Mike Woods says:

    Noah benshea has written a couple of books of gentle wisdom – Jacob the Baker and Jacob’s Journey. In the latter (I am reading it now) is this quote:
    “Jacob ate his meal slowly and deliberately. He undid his moments with patience, treating his time as a gift, and luxuriated not in his possessions but in his pace.”

    I think the radical self acceptance you wrote about in this post knows gladness is found in the pace of life.

  4. Teri says:

    I started out with a plan, a plan similar to the one I have followed fairly successfully in years past…but within about 36 hours of Lent starting I had failed and was beating myself up and feeling basically bad. That’s when I too decided that it was time for a change…so I gave up perfectionism for Lent. Or something like that. And when I fail at that discipline too, then I am trying not to be mean to myself about it. So far, it’s kind of working.

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