I began fasting for Lent a few years ago and have always given up something in order to remember how Jesus gave his life for me.
I planned to give up sweets this year as in recent years. But as I pondered my decision, I asked myself whether I am fasting for me or for God? I have never asked this question, so it took some soul searching to get an honest answer.
The truth of it is, I have always given up something outside instead of within myself. Fasting from things like TV, social media, food, and technology has helped me kick some unhealthy and unwanted habits. However, it has become self-serving because I tend to focus on me rather than on God. I’m merely giving up something outside of myself and not giving of myself for God.
With this decision, I’m learning that giving of myself takes fasting to a whole new level and demands more from me than I can give on my own. It requires a leaning on Jesus for strength. The focus has shifted from me to the God I want to remember during Lent. I’m fasting from the self-focused, me-first way of thinking that orders my day.
There are many things I can give up for Lent, but this year I’m giving of myself to God instead of giving up something. And I’m doing it by giving of myself to my family, the priority God has assigned me for such a time as now. I’m giving of myself to:
- Be present in the day-to-day moments and fully focused on how I can serve rather than be served.
- Speak kind and gentle words consistently, even when I’d rather not.
- Put others first (specifically the ones under my roof) by letting go of the desire to be in control of the trivial details in my day.
- Yield to my husband’s leadership (this is no easy task for my strong-willed personality!) and build him up daily with words of affirmation.
Rethinking Lent means giving of myself to God instead of giving up something. Throughout Lent and beyond, I pray God will form new habits in me which will stick permanently going forward. I want the habit of being like my Savior and master, Jesus Christ, who gave of himself for me and for all of humanity. I’m giving of myself to remember his sacrifice. I’m giving of myself to honor him and thank him. I’m giving of myself because I love him and because he is worthy of all I can give him.
Most importantly, I’m giving of myself with the hope that the change in me will be contagious. I want my expressions of God’s love and kindness to spread and infect the world around me so many lives will be changed for the better.
How about you? Will you rethink Lent and give of yourself for God? I hope you will! Let’s give it a go and see what God does for, in, and through us! We can change lives for the better with God’s love and kindness. But change has to begin within us. The time is imminent. We have been given life for such a time as now. May God’s love and kindness flow through us to others for the changing of many lives as he changes us from the inside out :).