Saturday, February 28, 2009


When I think of Lent, I think of the cafeteria menu in Wapato -- fish sandwiches on Fridays during the six weeks before Easter. I don't remember any significance to the season before Easter until just a few years ago. It has never been a big deal to me. This year, I decided to give up peanut butter. This may sound silly, but I eat quite a bit of it... in my oatmeal at breakfast, with some celery for lunch, on my ice cream at night. I was going to give up sweets too, but didn't want to take away every good and tasty thing.

Then, this morning, I was reading Lauren Winner's "Girl Meets God" and came across her reflections on Lenten. She writes that her pastor "had spoken of the need to give up something that was truly important to you. To give something that was really truly yourself. He had encouraged us to remember what it was like to receive gifts from friends. So much of what made the gift meaningful...was not the gift itself, but the spirit in which it was given. Say your friend has a beautiful green sundress. You have liked and admired that sundress for months. She gives it to you. If it's just a castoff -- she has eighteen others just like it, so giving it to you is no real sacrifice -- the whole exchange feels a little anticlimactic. But if your friend loves that dress too, loves it dearly but wants you to have it because she knows it will make you happen, then you are thrilled. The dress takes on a whole new meaning. 'I want to encourage you to give something to God that really matters. Something you really love. Something that is hard to do without' (he said)."

She then goes on to tell of his challenge to her to give up reading -- a pastime that was much more than a pastime for her. As I read that, I got one of those deep-in-my-gut ideas that is more than idea. It is the voice of God. I don't want to sound overly spiritual about it -- it could have been just an idea, but I had a fairly volatile response to the idea. Tried to write it off as me being over-zealous. Thought of all the things that could happen if I actually followed through on the idea. Tried to justify reasons to ignore the idea. But after sitting with the idea, I feel it is something I need to do between now and Easter.

I need to give up going to the Y.

I know that seems silly. Many people would look at NOT going to the gym as anything but a sacrifice. I'm not trying to say I'm some sort of super fit athlete, but as I pondered this Lenten decision, I realized just how much value I place in that slice of my life. How much justification I derive from the amount of calories I burn, how much affirmation from the guys who make a point to talk to me on the fourth floor, how much time I spend there in a given week. I'm sure there are more reasons why God has asked this of me during this season; I don't know what they all are, but I hope to understand more by mid-April. Nevertheless, I won't be Y-ing for a while. I still have a training plan for the 10K I'm running at the end of April. I confess I am very afraid that I will gain a bunch of weight if I don't go to the Y. So I lay that fear at the feet of Jesus and walk forward into this season.

And maybe I'll lay off the cookies too.....


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