Today marks the first day of Lent, a period of 40 days in which many Christians intentionally engage in spiritual practices such as fasting, almsgiving, devotion, and prayer as a way to further seek to walk in the ways of Christ. Growing up Baptist, I only knew Lent as that time of year when my Catholic friends quit eating chocolate. And while fasting from a particular food or meal is certainly part of what can constitute a Lenten practice, it’s oh so much more.
Our priest has often encouraged us to take away something (TV, facebook, dessert, etc) but also to add something (morning prayer, meditation on Scripture, service, etc). Thus, as we feel the empty ache that is left when we abstain from eating chocolate/checking pinterest/staying up past 10, we can fill ourselves with the sweeter, more-lasting fruit of nearness to Christ.
Over the past several months I have been increasingly uncomfortable with the quantity of my possessions. I’ve been physically uncomfortable, because the “stuff” of my home continues to take up more and more of our living space and our time. And I’ve been spiritually uncomfortable, convicted that there are things I own which could be better used by someone else and that my reasons for acquiring and keeping many of my things come out of a fear or pride. All of this leads to my personal discipline for this Lent:
Over the next 40 days I am committing to donating 1,000 items. Though I will undoubtedly determine many items to be unusable and therefore, trash, I will only count towards my goal things that are in good condition. I may sell a few larger items and will set aside those monies for a good cause. In addition, I am going to fast from purchasing things. I will continue to buy food and things like toilet paper (I’m not totally crazy) for my family, but I will not buy anything else. This addresses the “taking away” portion of my Lenten commitment. I will “add” time to sit in the quiet with Jesus. I want to experience the peace that comes from being in his presence and pray he will reveal the underlying motivations for my attachment to things.
So here goes.