I am not Catholic or Lutheran or a member of any of the churches that practice Lent. But for 17 years I lived in a wonderful little town that was primarily Catholic. Most of my friends from that town were Catholics. For a few years I watched from afar as they celebrated Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy Week and Easter. I learned to appreciate the devotion they put into those 40+ days. After a few years of observing, I decided that as a Christian, there was absolutely no reason I could not observe my own Lent. So, when my Catholic friends began giving up something for Lent, I did as well.
I didn't do it because I felt left out of the loop. Sometimes I never even told anyone besides my family what I was doing. I did it because I started thinking of the real meaning behind Lent. Actually I wonder why Christians of ALL religions don't observe Lent. After all, the "giving up" during Lent season is to mirror the sacrifices Christ had to make for 40 days in the desert.
So each year I tried to give up something that I considered a sacrifice. I have done candy, sweets in general, and pop (colas). Yes, I thought each time that I was quite the sacrificer!!
This year I decided to step it up a notch (in my mind obviously!) I gave up two items that are near and dear to me. I (once again) gave up pop (colas). I am pretty well addicted to pop. It gets me through my days. I have headaches for the first two or three days after I give it up.
The second item I gave up was my late nights. I decided to give up all my late nights and vowed to be in bed NO LATER than 1:00 a.m. No, I am not a partier. I am just a night owl. Late nights are when I get the most work done. I am gone to my 'day job' from 7 in the morning till 5 in the afternoon....at the very least. Since I am a high school English teacher I have lots to read and even more to grade. And of course I am always having to plan my lessons and stay (hopefully) two or three steps ahead of the students! That all takes a LOT of my time. Then two nights a week I drive 45 miles east (after I have already driven 45 miles home from my job) to take my mother supper and spend the evening with her. (I keep promising I will explain her whole bed-ridden saga of my mother....I really will. Someday.) By the time I get home from my mother's house, it is past 11 at night. Not to mention the nights before I go to her house I have to spend a good part of the evening getting the next nights supper ready to take to my mother. I am not saying all this to try and make myself look good. I am trying to use it to make a point. So already four of my evenings per week are pretty well occupied. Then by the time I do the normal 'household' things another chunk of the evening is gone. That is why I LOVE my late nights. It is no problem for me to stay up late. I love the quiet. I love the peace. I love the 'extra' time in my day to have fun. That is when I can read for fun. That is when I can sew. That is when I can Facebook, blog, email or just browse the internet. That is when I upload my pictures and play with my photographs. That is when I get caught up with my life. That is when I refuel.
I come by this trait honestly, as my dad, siblings and cousins all share this ability to get by with very little sleep. So this year when I decided to give up pop AND my late nights I KNEW I was really sacrificing. And in reality, it has been very hard for me. I have had two Pepsi's. ....And they tasted SO good. I have stayed up past 1:00 three times. (Once I took a nap during that Saturday, so I told myself it was 'ok'). I have had to re-pace my days. I start looking at the clock at about 11 and wonder how it could possibly be so late already. I am rushing to cook, do laundry, get things ready for the next day, blog, FB, call my children, shop, etc. I am really, really missing my late-nights. I HAVE SACRIFICED!!!!
Are you kidding me? That is no sacrifice. My non-cola 40 days are absolutely no sacrifice. My doing both (oh my GOSH) in one year are no sacrifice!!! Not only are they both NO SACRIFICE, but I have cheated during my 40 day stint. On both sacrifices! I AM WEAK. I cannot do even simple things such as sacrificing for 40 days. I haven't even mentioned how many times I have griped about not having my late nights and whaaa. whaaa. whaaaa!!
Yet in the desert for 40 days walked my Savior. He went without food. He went without a soft place to sleep each night. He went without everything except the Devil tempting him. And I can't go the whole 40 days without griping or cheating?
Just as Jesus clung to the words of his Father, I too must cling to His words. I admit I AM WEAK. I have to have my Savior to lean on. My poor representation of sacrifice for 40 days shows I cannot go through this life alone.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
When it says "Jesus said to HER" I know that I am the 'her'. Because of this promise, I will never ever have to really sacrifice. ....or even pretend to. I am leaning on my Lord.
Have a blessed Holy Week.