Lent is a 40-day celebration of giving up sex and good food.
Okay, so that’s not exactly accurate.
Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter that commemorate the time Jesus spent in the desert, lured by Satan’s constant temptation. I’m guessing that’s why so many Christians give up desserts during Lent; they equate indulgence with temptation. Because, you know, Jesus just wanted a cookie while He was chilling in the hot sun preparing to die for our sins.
I’m not putting those who ban desserts down; in fact, I was among them for the majority of my Lenten experience. It wasn’t until recently that I recalled a memory from my childhood and decided that I wanted to change how I roll for these 40 days and then some.
I couldn’t have been more than five. I was either paying attention in church (unlikely) or overheard a conversation that included details of Christ’s death. I asked my parents about it and my dad briefly explained that Jesus was crucified because He loved me. Yeah, okay. You try explaining that to a little girl who thought snow boots and a sundress made a great outfit.
So, I cried because death is sad.
I vividly remember my dad lifting me onto our kitchen counter so we were eye-to-eye. He said, “It’s not sad. It’s actually happy. Jesus came back to life on Easter Sunday, and that’s why we celebrate Easter.”
SAY WHAT, NOW?!
My mind was blown.
I was too young to understand the heaviness of Jesus dying for my sins, so for most of my life, I thought denying myself the things I enjoyed but didn’t need was the best way to acknowledge Lent. There were a few years that I tried to do less bad things, like curse (fail) or more good things, like volunteer my time to those who needed it.
This year, though, I’m taking a different approach. In honor of my glass-is-half-full husband and beautiful healthy kids, I’m trying to live up to Project Optimism’s standards every day of the week, not just Mondays. I have zero patience on a good day, so I thought it only right (and fair to those who are forced to interact with me) to try and be a better person. Rather than flying off the handle, as I do so well, I’m going to take a deep breath or six and think before I speak. When I do speak, it will be in a kind tone with minimal eye rolls. And I will quit using sarcasm around my kids because when they give it back to me, it just sound so bad coming from their tiny voices.
In light of some recent frustrations this week, I’ve really been put to the test. I have succeeded at times, and outright failed other times. I prayed for extra patience and grace at church, and begged my children to not push me to the brink. In response, my son woke me at 6:45 this morning by yanking my hair and emphatically informing me, “I am ready to go downstairs.” I wanted to yell, “Then walk down the damn stairs!” But I refrained. Score.
I know Jesus is going to have a few good laughs while I try to maintain calm, but that’s okay. I think I owe Him.