Google describes the purpose of Lent as: “the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, and denial of ego.”
I did not grow up in a faith tradition that observed Lenten practices, but for the last few years, I have attended a non-denominational church that does offer various options to include this as a practice. Along with giving up something, there can be an adding on something.
I’m following the Celtic Lenten Path since my husband is leading it. I’m going to add in the Pray as You Go app in my mornings instead of surfing the internet prior to work. This is a meditative prayer and scripture app.
The DENIAL part of this experience; ideally for me – this would be very little FB (app not on phone for now), more reading books or writing, less mindless internet surfing and less mindless eating, searching for more quiet pauses in my day. Forty Days. And then to decide what practices stay.
Lent provides a time to pause, to reflect, to confess, even as the rest of life swirls around and interferes with our intention to pause.
I recall feeling lost and inadequate in this faith walk. What was I – sixteen? I rarely felt like I was doing it right, whatever “it” was and whatever “right” was. Just trying to do what I was told were the things that would make me a better Christian. But what are the rules again, and why can’t I get past this continuous struggle? Teenagers don’t know that this is just part of learning life. When it came to faith and God, I just never felt good enough at it and it felt easier to leave it.
He remembers me as rebellious. My “troubled years”. I remember relief and feeling as though I was finally able to breathe. I do not recall feeling rebellious. Just resigned. The solution at the time – I just won’t BE a Christian. There. No guilt for not doing things right because it doesn’t matter now. No one asked why or what happened. I did not talk to anyone about it.
Since I liked to write in a journal, I probably wrote things down, but those journals were long ago destroyed. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see them now? I do have a long history of just handling “it” on my own, and there was not a big focus on figuring out teens and their needs in evangelical church in the 70s other than getting them “saved from going to hell”. I needed more than fire insurance, but didn’t know what exactly or how to look, or who to ask.
Now I’m in my early sixties, he in his late eighties, they live in their apartment downstairs. Often during our visits, he discusses the past – and sometimes our mutual past. He brings up feeling grateful that I made it out of those rebellious / troubled / backslidden years. He says he didn’t know what to do, so he just prayed. A simple solution that I’m grateful for. Like all parents – we often don’t know what to do. I smile and explain that there was really no big rebellion and tell him he got off easy in the crazy teenager department. He pats my arm, and is sweetly so proud of current me, so “blessed” to have me as a daughter.
We do have very different perspectives about what was happening during my “rebellion”. It makes me a little sad that this is what he remembers of teenager me. Now if he remembered me as OBNOXIOUS once in a while – yeah, I remember that.
The faith journey, deconstruction, reconstruction goes on even still.