Today, I still find I am thinking about Lent and how we keep Lent, or any spiritual practice, in the proper focus. I want to direct your attention an article and a blog post I read this past week.
(1) Mark Galli, “Giving Up Self-Discipline for Lent”
(2) JoHanna Reardon, “I Gave up Worry for Lent”
Is Galli right when he writes, “Lent is supposed to have more spiritual overtones than the mere self-improvement mantras of New Year’s. But I suspect that for many of us, Lenten disciplines are more about us than about God. More about getting our act together in some area that continually discourages us and repeatedly sabotages our self-respect. The advantage of Lent over New Year’s resolutions is that we can bring God to our side, and the whole church is there to cheer us on. But for many of us, I suspect, it’s one big self-improvement regimen, with God as mere personal coach”?
And then, ” … what my Lenten successes have done more than anything else is inculcate pride and self-righteousness. Spiritually speaking, that’s one step forward and two steps back.”
I encourage you read the entire article and think about his critique of spiritual disciplines. You will also want to pay attention to the theology that informs his critique as you evaluate what for you is helpful or not in what he writes.
When JoHannan Reardon told her husband she was giving up worry for Lent he asked, “Aren’t you suppose to give up something you enjoy for Lent?” So what is the discipline of Lent about? Reardon writes, “But last year I took time to pray about what I should give up for Lent. I asked God to show me a dependency that truly was hindering my relationship with him.”
Do you think Reardon gives us a good starting point to evaluate any spiritual discipline? I encourage you to read her blog post.
How are doing this Lent? What are you doing or not doing for Lent? And more importantly, why?