Re-evaluating Lent

 

TOM GEHRING

tjgehring11@ole.augie.edu

Well, it’s that time of year again. We’ve hit that forty-day long stretch of time that the church calls Lent. Clues that the season has arrived are all around us, like the Paraments changing to purple in the chapel, or every single fast food restaurant chain offering deals on “fish” sandwiches, or overhearing fellow students converse about what they’ve “given up” for Lent. Now, that last example is rather interesting.

I have heard numerous people talk about the things they have chosen to cast out of their lives for the remainder of the church season. They range from the admirable (giving up using the elevators in the towers) to the more trivial (giving up all forms of social media). While I think sacrificing various elements of our everyday lives can be very fruitful, I wonder if any of us actually know why we do.

Often times, what we give up almost seems like a contest to who can give up the hardest thing to live without, and I wonder if we actually get anything out of the experience.

Two of my closest friends have decided to give up eating anything after 9 p.m. While I deeply admire their efforts and ability to see their goal through to the end, their sacrifice has come with some complaints whenever 9 o’clock rolls around.

Here’s a question, what do we gain from losing? What happens when Lent is up and we find ourselves in the midst of Easter? This might be a little bit controversial, but I’m of the opinion that, a lot of the time, we lose sight of the message of Lent when we give things up. Disclaimer, I’m not saying that we should stop giving things up for Lent, but I am saying we should seriously consider why we do.

If we come to the close of Lent and fall back into the same old habits we were in before the season, has anything been gained?

I prefer to think of Lent as a reminder of living our whole lives in a more simple fashion. Two summers ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend three weeks in Tanzania where I learned some extremely important lessons on living simply.  I know that a story from Africa is cliché, but it really did teach me a lot. Seeing how much of the stuff we deem vital to our existence the villagers lived without made me think. A lot. Ever since my experiences there, I have tried to live my life in a more simple fashion.