Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Lent for Non-Christians: Change Your Life
I'm pretty much as a far from being Catholic as you can get. In fact, I'm not even Christian. However, every year nearly 20 years now I actively participate in Lent.
Years ago I dated a youth pastor who gave me an amazing book on Lent (The East Experience by Mary Pierre Ellebracht).Ellebracht states Lent is a period of purification and enlightenment. By giving up the things that are tying us to the physical world and stripping away the falsehoods of our lives we get to see what is truly important and real. If we do it properly, we are figuratively "reborn" at Easter as a better version of ourselves.
This may be even more important for those without a regular spiritual experience in their lives.
It means so much more than giving up chocolate or alcohol. It is supposed to be a spritual cleansing: a time to rid yourself of everything that is interfering with your relationship to god.
Stop and think for a moment about the type of life you want to be leading. What is important to you?
Now think about all the activities and all the barriers to you actually living that type of life. What is holding you back.
Giving up chocolate just to give something up is useless. To have REAL meaning you should be giving up something that is a real barrier to your success. One year I gave up drinking because I was hanging with the wrong crowd in bars 5 nights a week. Another year is a sex because of a string of horrible relationships.
Now that I have the right friends and the perfect relationship, what is my barrier to becoming the type of man I want to become? Ironically: the computer.
I spend a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook talking with other writers and creative people. I talk with them so much I often don't have time to write. If I'm not chatting I'm playing video games, again on the computer. Sometimes I'll chat or play until 2:00 a.m. meaning I get about 4 hours sleep. After not getting enough sleep, I wake up the next day exhausted and cranky. I don't "feel" like writing.
So this year for Lent I'm giving up being on the computer after 10:00 p.m. I am also taking on extra reading on spirituality to help keep me grounded.
As a non-Christian I fully understand all the arguments you can make about "what's wrong with Christianity." Every religion has someone willing to poke holes in it. I believe Lent is one of the things that Christianity got right.
Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. That's when we express our love for others. For me, Lent is an expression of how much I love my soul and my own spirit.