Not giving up my chocolate, coffee, or knitting for Lent

I told my husband this morning while we were getting ready for work that I have decided what to give up for Lent this year. Last year I tried abstaining from chocolate (which became easier when I read in the fine print of the liturgical calendar that the Sundays of Lent don’t count in the 40 days and therefore you can sneak in your chosen item of abstinence on those days).

Let me pause and say that observing Lent and giving up something I enjoy in order to focus more on God during Lent is something I did not grow up doing in small Southern Baptist churches. It is all pretty new, but something worth investing in. And, if I have misrepresented or sounded irreverent about that “loophole” in the previous paragraph, I sincerely apologize. Trade secret: a little apparent irreverence is sometimes a device to get readers’ interest.

Back to this morning: I told Jeff, “It isn’t a food or drink, which I’m happy about.” I have to give him credit for his good guess. He named something as difficult for me to abstain from as chocolate or coffee. “Knitting?”

“Wow, that would be difficult,” I answered. “No, it’s my music, and in the car is the setting that will be most affected.” I went on to explain that 40 days without TV themes to Airwolf and The Virginian and The Brady Bunch may be long enough for those songs not to run in my head anyway, even though they aren’t playing through the speakers.

Revival: isn’t that sort of what Lent is about?*

Revival has a lot to do with clearing one’s mind. It is coming to a place of such openness (to God’s voice) and obedience that – while not losing one speck of memory or of wisdom gained from life experience – one purposes to know nothing and to expect nothing (expect nothing specific other than to grow in love and in faith, and to see God work). It’s like what happened to me on the way to work this morning: I just felt new and very uninterested in starting the day steeping myself in (or worrying about) whatever I was thinking about yesterday and last night.

Aside: I almost lumped “identity” in with memory and experience as things we can retain while determining to know nothing and to expect nothing specific. But, I reconsidered. Losing or revising our identity is something we must look at if we’re talking about seriously realigning our life and purpose with God’s total plan. There are many references in Scripture** to transforming one’s identity. Something to consider.

What do I hope to gain by losing my music fun for 40 days? Valuable silence. The ability to recognize a “burning bush” if God sets one in front of me. Losing our interest in silence as a virtue and losing our determination to achieve silence as a catalyst for thinking, meditating, praying, and opening our minds to God’s leading is a societal development that has had dire consequences. We need to get silence back.

Later today I will mark my calendar with a reminder about abstaining from my playlists. Is there something special you’re thinking of doing to honor and to proclaim the crucified, risen Christ during Lent this year? Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, March 1.

*”Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance. It is a season for reflection and taking stock.” Source
**For example: Romans 12:1-2, Luke 17:33, Ephesians 4:22-24, Galatians 2:20-21

3 thoughts on “Not giving up my chocolate, coffee, or knitting for Lent

  1. So, I want to give an update on my Lenten goal some 18 days into the 40. Giving up the My Music app was a valuable intention, but the results haven’t turned out quite as I’d imagined, thus far. (There is still time. Easter is still almost a full month off.) True to my prediction, it took a few days for TV themes to stop running through my head without being played. (Musically, The Mary Tyler Moore Show is one of the more interesting.) But it isn’t silence that I have been consuming instead. That’s where my original plan has stalled.

    Mostly in the car, I’ve listened to the entire 11.5 hours of my favorite – and almost ONLY – audiobook purchase, Pride and Prejudice read by Carolyn Seymour. I’ve spent one evening at home cloistered away with my Baptist Hymnal singing some 5 or 6 hymns, all verses and all refrains. (Honestly, I was persuaded we did well to leave off the third verse in church all those years. Is that terrible of me? “Lengthy” really has become a bad word – except in the context of something we really WANT to focus on.) But that’s just the downside of the experience. By far, the fact that I took time to do this, and with an earnest heart, leaves the larger impression on me, and I trust that my intentional worship went heavenward and was heard even over the praises of those already in Jesus’ presence (not unlike the faint cry of one Whoville resident catching the ear of one who listened!).

    Last, on March 17 I ended up on iTunes Store anyhow, in spite of my self-imposed moratorium, prompted I do not remember how, except that it must have been connected to wondering if any recordings were out there of a newer hymn, Will You Come and Follow Me? Why that hymn, I cannot tell you. I suspect its title ran across my notice in the course of work, or else some tune I heard somewhere sparked the memory of it. The latter seems more plausible. Bottom line: I am the happy owner of 4 tracks from the album Narrow Road by Rob Hudec, all of them sacred and none I am denying myself for the sake of my Lenten goal of no My Music. In fact, this morning I made a new playlist titled No Christmas No TV, telling Jeff, “I’ll be interested to see what this leaves.” It left 112 songs that break down this way: Sacred anthems & scripture songs 44%, Classical & folk/traditional 30%, Swing & big band 12%, Pop tunes, vintage, & movie soundtrack 11%, Patriotic 3%.

    No, I don’t plan to abandon my music abstinence goal, filling my head with these 112 songs to and from work, and at night as an antidote to random or worrisome thoughts or to bookend times of prayer that too often land in the camp of pleading for the prevention or the remedy of sad and destructive situations, to the exclusion of utterances of praise and thanks and faith. Nor am I shunning the attempt to seek productive, worshipful silence in an effort to train myself not to require some kind of interesting noise every waking moment. However, if I choose to listen a few times or even a lot of times to new purchases Will You Come and Follow Me?, Open My Eyes, Lord, and Here I Am, Lord [the fourth track I bought was a Christmas hymn ;-)], inevitably memorizing lyrics and being reminded to put “feet to my faith,” I will count it progress toward my truer Lenten goal of gaining something, not just giving something up. As I expressed it in a request for my church’s prayer list shortly after March 1, “Pray that my family and I will experience real growth during Lent this year.”


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