I’m not Catholic, and I’ve decided to take the next 40 days to FINALLY do what God’s been nudging me to do for the last year. Does that mean I’m practicing Lent?
What is Lent?
Lent is a period of 40 weekdays before Easter during which Christians of many denominations practice fasting and penance. It’s supposed to be a reflection of Jesus’s 40 days in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11).
It’s a pretty standard religious practice to go through a period of self-denial. Muslims have the annual period of Ramadan, during which they cannot eat while the sun is up. Christians have Lent. The idea behind periods of fasting is that by depriving yourself of Earthly things, you’ll develop a stronger dependency on God.
The Cultural Backlash Against Lent
While that all sounds good, there’s been some backlash amongst non-Catholic Christians towards those who practice Lent. The criticism essentially amounts to “You’re not taking this seriously enough,” or “Truly holy people won’t fast when everyone else is fasting.”
The first criticism is fair. There are absolutely some people that treat Lent the same way they’d treat any popular “cleansing season.” It’s less about God and more about personal improvement. While personal improvement can be a part of Lent, it’s not the goal. Like anything in this world, if you put something before God, there’s an issue.
The second criticism, however, is full of pride and legalism. It’s prideful because those people are saying they’re too good to do what everyone else is doing. In reality, any time of fasting and penance approached with the right attitude is a good thing, regardless of whether you’re in a group or not. You’re never too good for spiritual discipline.
Additionally, those people are missing out. The first year I practiced Lent, I did it with a friend. We were able to encourage each other and work together to stay faithful. It ended up making our friendship stronger. Additionally, the breaking of a fast can be a wonderful community affair, where friends and family gather together to celebrate eating again.
Second, you are not made holy by any kind of fasting or acts. You’re made holy by the grace of God and the death and resurrection of Christ. That’s the bottom line.
So Why Am I “Kind of” Practicing Lent?
Like I said earlier, I’ll be practicing self-denial by restricting my diet and not wearing make-up. The thing is, God’s been prompting me to do this for a while, I just haven’t. To be honest, Lent is a convenient set of calendar dates for me.
Yes, I’m aware this is a problem. But I’m also excited because those calendar dates will give me the structure I like. If I do these things during Lent, it’ll be nice to know I’m not alone. Practicing it during the season of Lent also reminds me that I’m doing this to get closer to God. I also like that I’ll be able to mark the end of this period with the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection.
More important, I’m doing this because I want to, and it’s about dang time. I depend way too much on make-up for my self-worth, and my diet NEEDS an overhaul for the sake of my mental and physical health.
So I’m practicing Lent. Kind of.
What About You?
How do you feel about Lent? Are you practicing it this year, or are you not into it? Let me know in the comments below!