"What are you giving up for Lent?"
When I started this post, I had a witty, one-word answer to that. After having talked about it some, I've rethought it a bit, and expanded it, and blurred the edges. Now my answer doesn't look like anything like it did before, and certainly can't be limited to one word, but it does look more like a clear path toward God.
This year is my first year actively celebrating Lent, but I really find the concept fascinating. Easter is frankly a dumb holiday when taken purely in the world's view, but in Christianity it should be the most highly-regarded holiday of the year. More than Christmas, even, since Jesus Christ was born on the earth with the express purpose of defeating physical and spiritual death. So why not prepare for it, and make the celebration of it a deeply spiritual, joyous thing?
In my Old Testament class last fall, we learned that in the Bible, "forty" isn't a very exact count. Forty years in the wilderness. Forty days of fasting. Forty days of rain. None of these were absolutely 40, because forty doesn't necessarily mean 4 X 10. It simply means "as long as it takes," or "enough". So I like that before Easter, there are 40 days set aside for us mortals to prepare for the commemoration of the immortality of Christ, and all men. We aren't given 40 anything to prepare to behold God's glory; we are given "forty"... we are given enough. That's a heartening thing for me, because the spiritual project I am beginning in celebration of Lent will NOT be over in 40 days. But I know that God, in His mighty power and wisdom, will give me as long as it takes.
With God's help, I want to spend the next 40 days learning. I want to learn that my life is good. I want to realize that it is exactly the way the Lord intends it to be right now. I need to be satisfied with the ways that the Lord really is blessing me now, instead of looking for more elsewhere -- looking beyond the mark, I guess. I want to learn where the Lord needs my talents right here, right now, and to put my whole heart into serving Him, in the way that He has chosen for me.
It's like Alma: "O that I were an angel ... but behold, I ... do sin in my wish." O that I were any kind of good thing other than what I am. But behold, I do sin in my wish. If I really honestly wanted to obey the Lord, I would not be pining so badly for things that are not His will.
And frankly, I have plenty to do. I was thinking about it, and a friend of mine is going through some big changes in her life, and she's finding the logistics of it very hard. It's going to change things for the next couple of years drastically, and going to shape the rest of her LIFE. Now, some things I can't help with, but others I think I can. She is one of those wonderful people who is such a strength herself that when her strength is lacking, the people around her naturally want to provide that strength -- not as an obligation, but because she is so especially easy to love. Isn't it possible the Lord needs my hand in that?
I have the utter blessing of working with the little, little kids at church, and I'm learning so much and coming to love them so much. Now I may have a new calling soon, but isn't it possible that the Lord wants me to be where I am in my life, this very place, in order to be as happy as possible? Not just happy "in the long run", either; I mean deeply joyous and gratefully and cheerfully obedient to the Lord. Obviously this applies to more than helping out in the nursery. I want to have this in all aspects of my life. So -- this is going to be my new project, my celebration of Lent, which is a celebration and preparation to receive the perfect love of God.
See why one word just wouldn't do it?