When I was young, the season of Lent meant managing my friends. At the end of every February I'd make mental notes like these:
Don't invite Sally Sweet to spend the night, she's given up sugar for Lent. What's The Love Boat and Fantasy Island without a Big Gulp and a candy bar?
And later as a teen:
Please don't let Tom Foolery ask me out! I heard he's given up fun for Lent.
And then as a young adult:
Better not invite the Legume family over for dinner this month, they've given up meat for lent. Whatever would I serve them, rabbit food?
It was all about avoiding those who were avoiding the good stuff.
Occasionally over the years I'd jump in and try to give up something, touting my omission to anyone who would listen. Finally I realized that fasting from something wasn't enough, I needed to use that time to privately grow and know God.
So this year I'm not giving up Starbucks (shocker), red meat, or my Crazy Heart soundtrack, rather I gave up my notions of what the Lenten season is. I put away past experiences and ideas and started from square one. I researched, read and prayed about Lent and believe I'm different because of it.
Most noticeably, I've learned that Lent isn't about me and my power to preclude. While it's difficult to enter into this season of sadness, joy always comes in the morning and we will celebrate with joy on Easter.
We will celebrate God, who with his abilities and power is the only reason I can do anything at all.