Another way I saw Lent was an opportunity to suffer along with Jesus. This is a season in the church year where we remember the suffering Jesus endured for our sakes. To remind ourselves, and show Him we remember, we suffer along with Him by giving up something we love.
But this year as I look at the list of pleasures I could give up, it strikes me how ludicrously paltry they seem: like giving up chocolate for a few weeks and then trying to convince a man dying in Abu Ghraib that this somehow enables me to really identify with his plight.
And this year I also seem to be faced more dramatically with just how weak I really am: how utterly incapable I am of making even external changes -- let alone internal changes -- for even short periods of time!
So maybe Lent isn't about resolve or showing Jesus I understand what He went through.
This year I am still committing myself to giving up a thing or two for Lent. But if I blow it and don't live up to my commitment, I'm not going to beat myself up: I'm going to try and look at Jesus. And if I make it through and somehow am successful in avoiding the things I am choosing to avoid, I'm not going to pat myself on the back: I'm going to try and look at Jesus.
Maybe Lent isn't about showing Jesus
how strong or compassionate I am.
Maybe Lent is about showing myself
how weak I really am.
Maybe Lent is about coming to grips with how big my limp is even with my "Jesus crutch", and how unable I am to stand up fully straight even when I do lean on Him. Maybe Lent is about not only recognizing but rejoicing in my limits, since this accentuates and points me to His limitlessness, straightness, and strength.