For the last couple of years, we’ve resolved to make more of Easter by observing Lent , which is sort of like the Advent of springtime. But all we’ve really done is choose something painful to give up for the forty days before Easter. This year, I wanted to try to find some more visual symbols to include in our celebration.
Abby is old enough to notice things like decorations and ritual, and those are ways for her to begin to understand the seasons we celebrate in our home. I know she’s too little to understand the complete significance of what she sees and repeats. But I want these family traditions to be a part of her earliest memories, not some new agenda we spring on her after she’s already formed habits and expectations. Besides, the truth is reinforced to my heart every time I attempt to instruct hers, and I’m teaching her things that I’m still struggling to understand.
So this year we’re borrowing a tradition that I observed at the school where I used to work. Every person is given a seed to plant and to watch over the course of the Lenten season. Under the soil, the seed will break apart and die, and slowly the shoots of a new plant will emerge for us to see.
The seed represents a bad habit or negative pattern of thinking. It must die to be replaced by a habit that is good and right. As we watch the new plants emerging from the dirt in our flower pots, we’ll be challenged to examine ourselves to find evidence of growth in our character.
This adds some meaning to the fasting element of Lent. It’s not just giving up something to manufacture pain so that I can sympathize with Christ in his suffering, which is how I always understood the purpose of fasting. (At the same time recognizing the shallowness of comparing my craving for Dr. Pepper to his suffering on the cross!)
Rather, I consider what habit needs to be uprooted. This year, I’m noticing that I’m too dependent on the praise and feedback of others. I actually programmed my tweets to post to Facebook just so that I could still get “likes” and comments!
So, for the second year in a row, I’m giving up Facebook. But this year I’m thinking of it less in terms of time-management and more in terms of character development. In the place of my applause-seeking, I hope that I will grow in the security of finding my identity and value in Christ.
What about you? How do you prepare for Easter? Is anyone fasting for Lent this year? Feel free to leave a comment…or not!