‘Tis the season. No, not Christmas. Lent! This time before Easter is actually one of my favorites. It marks the beginning of the holiest time in the church. According to Wikipedia, the traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, atonement and self-denial. Sounds fun, right?
Actually, I find Lent to be the most spiritual time for me because it is one where I give up something I love for 40 days (not including Sundays) and really try to focus on what God gave up for us.
This past Sunday, my little one was sick so Daddy stayed home and my oldest and I ventured out to church by ourselves. At breakfast, after church, we had a discussion about what Lent really is meant to be. She is starting to understand what it means now that she’s older. I loved this conversation. I was filled with joy and feeling wonderful that we were connecting. I was so overcome with happiness that I decided that it would be a fantastic idea if we got to pick for each other what we would sacrifice this season of Lent.
I went first. I chose for Maddie to give up junk food. She’s a great eater. She will eat whatever I put in front of her with little complaint. Everything from baked fish to boiled kale. But if she is given the choice between chocolate and kale, like any child, she is choosing chocolate. I really wanted her to take some time to cut the junk out and to understand what it feels like to eat healthy all the time. This felt like a huge victory for me. What was she going to do? Say no to God! Nope! Mommy – 1; Maddie – 0
She contemplated this for a while as she picked at her cheese omelette and bacon. Then she planned everything she was going to eat in the next three days to satisfy her junk food cravings until Easter.
Her turn. She looked at me thoughtfully and asked, “So, it has to be something you really love?” “Yes,” I replied. “Great. I want you to give up Netflix,” she said with the biggest grin ever.
“Ummm…well, see, umm…” I was literally stammering. I had no response. She couldn’t possibly be serious. Netflix? 40 days plus Sundays without Netflix?? I still have 28 episodes of Friends to watch. What will happen if I can’t watch the rest? Mommy – 0; Maddie – 1
This was the moment I actually stopped and listened to the crazy that was running through my head.
Here was my child, engaged in a meaningful discussion about God, Christ, Lent, and sacrifice and I was actually almost panicking because I couldn’t watch the rest of a television show that I actually watched in its entirety when it was actually on television.
This was the moment I realized that I was in a place to teach my child something. I was in a place to do something I didn’t want to do and to do it anyway because it is the least I can do for God who made the ultimate sacrifice for me.
So, I did the grown up thing. I told her yes. I would give up Netflix. So, now as I sit here and type, I’m listening to a podcast from Joyce Meyer. I would normally be watching Netflix as I work. To tell you the truth, so far, I’m not missing it. Granted, it’s been only 3 hours but I’ll take small victories.
The bigger victory at the end of the 40 days will not be that I taught my child by using words about sacrifice and Lent but that I was able to show her the love of Christ through my actions. And, finally, the biggest victory will be knowing in my heart the meaning of true sacrifice. Not Netflix or candy, but what God sacrificed.
Say it with me: For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
At the end of Lent, the math will look like this: Mommy – 1 + Maddie – 1 = God – 2