For the last few years David and I had the opportunity to attend a multi-church gathering to celebrate Ash Wednesday. The first year I remember not taking it very seriously, I mean a Baptist partaking in Lent...I had never done it! God, however had begun working through this period of time in me and using it to humble, mold, and change me.
Last year I took it very serious and decided to fast from something that was difficult to willing give up. It wasn't caffeine or sweets, as a family we fasted from ALL unnecessary spending. We stopped going out to eat, no little extras at Target or thrifting trips. We also tried to use up all of our food in our pantry before grocery shopping for more. It was hard, I remember posting about my failures in buying the kids Easter outfits. I was so mad at myself that I could not go without indulging in what I felt was justifiable. David reminded me that being to legalistic was beside the entire point of Lent. It was a time of repentance, prayer, fasting from the idols in our life, and the MERCY God has bestowed upon us when we do fail.
It was an incredible experience I will say. I even took an already planned trip to California and spent NOTHING besides a few groceries. We even packed our lunch to drive out there. It really opened my and my families eyes on how much we 1. consume 2. justify things as necessary and 3. how much time and money was spend on those two things. Through those 40 days I was able to take back an (embarrassing) amount of time. I finally took my kids to the library. I lived in central Phoenix my entire adult life and had never taken the kids to the Central Phoenix Branch. They were in awe, as was I. We went to the park and thought of several ways to spend our time. I finally finished tasks that were only partially completed in our little fixer upper in Phoenix. I look back and see how God used that time. I had no idea that we would only live in that house 9 months before having to sell it and move. Those projects helped us to quickly sell our home! We definitely got healthier! No more fountain drinks or out to lunches while running errands, which were cut drastically as a result of our fast, and potato chips are not exactly a necessity (the kids begged to differ!).
With all this said we are going to do it again this year. I'm going to hold my self accountable to try my best but also not make it into a legalistic practice. I will be buying Easter outfits for the family....It's the Baptist in me :) We also are not going to give up our Sunday lunches. It is an amazing time of fellowship, plus Sundays are not counted into Lent anyway :) I am though putting a brake on projects that I want to get done, thrifting, and thoughtless meals through the drive through, which is really only Taco Bell for vegans!
I'm typing this with a sense of humility rather than pride. I know the Bible warns us not to go into any fast with a sense of pride "And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others..." Matthew 6:16. It takes a sense of humility to deny yourself indulgences with it all around us, to say no to shopping trips or lunch dates. Rather to use it as a witness to others if asked, to be held accountable, and to journal for my self on my blog how God has moved within this family. I also see it as a Christian wide act that we do in communion with each other to prepare ourselves for Easter. The preparation for Easter begins with Ash Wednesday. This season should should draw us in, into the very foundations of our faith the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.