I never "do" Lent. I have no recollection of it growing up. As far as I know, I never went to a church that participated in it until I was in college. That's the first time I participated in Ash Wednesday- and participated I mean 'sat in the back and felt very depressed.' But this year I decided to "do" Lent.
I started a day late, but better late than never, and I decided to stop weighing myself. The motivation behind the choice was my obsession with the little digital number on the scale. I used to weigh myself once a week, and then it became twice a week, and then it became every time I went to the gym. (I don't actually own a scale...)
I THOUGHT Lent was a week.
Lent is 40 days.
As I was lamenting how the scale seemed to stare at me from the corner, my older and wiser cousin chimed in, "You know. You look amazing. You've got curves. You're doing great. Why are you so hung up with this number?" "BECAUSE!" I exclaimed, "I want to see a "1" in front of my weight. I long for that number!" She reminded me, "It's. A. Number." And it hit me that she was right. I'm eating well, I'm working out, I can pull my son in his little bike trailer with less stops than before. I'm down two sizes, I feel confident, I feel amazing. WHY does that depend on a number?
And then my friend's dad died.
I solemnly packed up my son and headed for the funeral. It was held at the church we attended as kids (he has since moved away and I've been through three churches). Walking back through the doors flooded me with emotions and memories and visions of all that had happened there through the years. People from my past hugged me and wanted to meet Liam (who was exploring everything at a rapid pace) and instead of talking about high school drama and who was dating whom, we were meeting spouses and introducing children.
My friend's wife is stunning. A natural beauty who just radiates love and patience. Which you'd need to have, if you were married to my friend. ;) His baby is the epitome of precious. His faith knows no bounds. In a word- he's got it made in this life and the next.
I sat in the back of the chapel, near the door, and I watched the procession of my friend and his baby, his mother, brother and sister, aunt and uncle, and finally a frail looking grandmother. A mother burying her son. There's nothing right or natural about that picture. My friend's dad was 54. 54. I'm going to be 30. That's 24 years from now, in my world.
The funeral was a celebration of Craig's life. I had known him as a quiet, gentle man. Turns out he was so much MORE than that. My friend delivered the most beautiful prose on his father's life- his words have haunted me now DAYS after their reading. But as you sit there and listen to people talk about the past and what they remember about a person, it gets you thinking weird thoughts. When I die, what are they going to say about me? God forbid I should die TODAY- what's the Eulogy going to sound like?
"Well, Libbie lost 42 pounds recently in a desperate attempt to see a "1" in front of her weight."
In that MOMENT, I understood Lent. If done correctly, Lent is about giving up so we can gain. Lent is about eliminating something from our lives so every time we miss it, we consider other sacrifices in history. I know at the heart of the season, we're bombarded with a picture of Jesus on the cross, and that's GREAT. But I believe there are other facets.
When you're starving, food tastes better. When you're saving, money is more precious. When you're lacking, abundance is better appreciated. When you have nothing...something seems like the most generous gift. Lent is about eliminating the former, so the latter seems more meaningful than ever. Jesus came so we could have life and have it at it's fullest.
If I can be bold- this is why I believe Jesus said that the meek would inherit the earth. Not the pompous. When you have everything, what could you possibly need? In steps entitlement and greed and quiet honestly, these aren't the people with whom you want to be friends. These aren't the people you trust your secrets to. These aren't the people who draw you to their father's funeral, 17 years after you first met.
I walked into the gym yesterday and the digital beast stared at me from its corner. I walked by. I got on the stair climber and I climbed and climbed and thanked God for my breath and for my parents and for my legs that I can FEEL and for my son and for my husband and, and, and...
Plus think about it- not weighing myself for 40 days should yield a good result in the long run. But in the end...nobody cares about the "1."