You may be surprised to know that I have never before celebrated Lent. It was not a part of my church tradition growing up, nor did my family really care about intentionally giving up anything. As I have grown older, I have begun to see the importance and beauty of pumping the brakes on an area or two of life and seeing where ceasing gets me.
For my first Lent, I am giving up the need to overproduce and the need to please everyone. Many people give up chocolate or coffee or facebook...for me, those are all essential to life and work. I would rather not spend the Lenten season struggling to get through a day because I cannot have coffee. I would rather create an experience with my Savior that brings me closer to His heart. So I began thinking, "What is something that is practical to give up yet that is necessary, as it holds me back from being more like my God?" I began to think about a day just this week when I allowed myself to take an hour lunch break rather than 30 minutes. I drove to the city's Bridge Club, where I parked and sat in my car, gazing out past raindrops on my windshield to the beautiful evergreen grass of a soccer practice field. As I sat there that day, I realized how far I had gone past simplicity. I had worked and struggled all week long to make up hours I had missed from being sick last week and from other previous days I had missed. I had labored and strove to work as hard as I could, and though I was accomplishing a lot, a part of me felt completely exhausted and like I was getting nowhere. I needed to rest; I needed to find simplicity. I needed solitude; I needed moments, quiet moments, with my Savior.
This experience led me today to think of the possibility that if I give up the need to be ever productive, the need to always be on top, the need to have everything perfect and in its place, then maybe, just maybe, I might find the joy of the silent presence of my Lord. Maybe I would find myself resting, as Mary did, at the very feet of Jesus my Lord, and there I would find the things that cannot be taken from me. Maybe.
We will see how far pumping the brakes gets me...