Looking at my calendar this morning, I had a similar thought process I suspect I share with many of you: Oh, wow- Lent starts tomorrow! I need to think of something to give up…
For many of us, our mind immediately goes to our bodies. Our inner multi-tasker says, “If I’m going to give something up, it’s going to be something that helps me look better.” We want to be leaner, so instinctively know we need to “trim the fat” and now’s a great time to think about doing it.
Even those of us who didn’t grow up in a tradition that follows Lent still feel the urge to use it as a tool for refocusing our lives…kind of a “do-over” from already broken New Year’s Resolutions. NOW I mean it. It’s just 40 days, and by that time, it will have become a habit, right? This time it’s gonna stick.
But this approach only scratches the surface of what we could be doing with this wonderful, annointed process. There’s magic on the “40 days” rule (you’ll see this number throughout the Bible and in other holy books and traditions), and reducing it something involving wearing a bikini is a huge wasted opportunity.
This year, let’s think beyond our bodies to something deeper…much deeper: “What do we want, ultimately, out of life?”
Before you roll your eyes and think I’m making too much out of this, think about this: the fundamental principle of efficiency is to achieve a goal using the least amount of energy possible. This involves three things: Trimming the fat (dead weight), fully utilizing the “muscles” (usable resources), and most importantly…knowing where we are going (what IS our ultimate goal in it all?). If we do not have a clear indication of the last point, the first two amount to nothing.
So let’s get the most out of Lent, which is meant to be an exercise in getting our lives ready to receive the blessings of Easter (a PERFECT fit for everything we’ve been talking about, don’t you think?), and instead of turning it into just an exercise in self-control (“no chocolate!”), make sure we’re using it as a means to the best end:
- Start with the End in mind: Don’t get rid of anything until we know what we want to keep. What do we WANT? Ultimately? Any single action we take in life that does not lead to this goal is wasted.
- What “Fat” is hindering us from reaching that goal? The most obvious one that pops into our mind first is what we will give up for Lent. No questions asked.
- What’s the biggest “Muscle” we’re not using that will get us to our goal? We ‘ve all heard that the easiest way to stop doing something is to start doing something else in its place. Replacing fat with muscle is the leanest way to go, so let’s not miss this opportunity to do so.
Our “End” is the Abundance we want for yourselves, our family, and our world. Our means will determine how efficiently we get there. It’s not as hard as we’re making it out to be- let’s just drop some dead weight so we can relax and enjoy the ride!