What Does Lent Mean to Me?

Lent isn’t something that I grew up around. I vaguely remember hearing my mom talk about it once or twice as a child, but I don’t remember my church talking about it or doing it myself. The first time I heard it explained was in college. It was super confusing to me why Christians would take 40 days to focus on clothing fibers? When you go to school in the south, lint and Lent can sound a lot alike. I quickly learned that they were not the same thing.

The first year I participated in Lent, I was a senior in college and I did it with of a group of girls on my residence hall because I wanted to make my daily relationship with Jesus more of a priority. My first time around the block I chose to give up all carbohydrates and sugar because they were my lifeline. I probably picked one of THE hardest things to start out with, but God helped me do it!

Over the past few years, some of the other things I have given up are social media, negative thinking, and sweet tea. One year, instead of giving something up, I intentionally added an extra hour into my daily routine to pray and read my Bible.

When deciding what to do each year for Lent, I either give up something that tends to distract me from God or add something into my daily life that creates more room for God. The point of it is to focus more of my attention and affection on God.

For me, it is a time of slowing down and realigning in preparation for celebrating Easter. I have come to cherish this time each year because it is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and lose sight of what really matters: Jesus.

This year for Lent, I felt like I needed to give up watching TV because I spend so much time in front of a screen. If you could win an Olympic gold medal for watching Netflix, I would definitely qualify to make the US Olympic Binge Watching team because I am that good.

Lent started on Valentine’s Day this year and the first few days I failed miserably. I would get home from work exhausted with no energy to do anything other than lay on the couch and watch TV. Initially, I found myself feeling frustrated that I couldn’t get my act together, but I quickly changed my tune.

Instead of being hard on myself for failing, I opted for showing grace and reminding myself why I chose to set aside TV. I desperately need more of Jesus in my life and TV is something that is taking away from time with Him.

Instead of choosing TV, for 6 weeks, I want to choose Jesus. In the moments that I am tempted to get hung up on my failure, I want to celebrate the moments and days that I did choose Jesus over my own comfort. Practicing Lent is not about perfection, but about creating more time with Jesus, and if I do that 35 out of the 46 days, then it is worth it.

Laura Smith serves at 95.1 SHINE-FM as Project Manager.