Riding Into Lent

Lego Ash WednesdayRiding my bike daily is one of the practices I have decided to take up for Lent. While we often think of Lent being a time when we give up something or when we take up a ‘spiritual practice’, something like prayer or alms giving, Lent can also be a time of reflection, repentance, and change. I need to turn from my unhealthy practices I have fallen into and take up healthy practices – my bike is quite literally a vehicle of change.

view from my bike

My goal is to ride 40 minutes each day for the 40 days of Lent. There is no speed goal. No distance goal. Only time and movement. The first day I fell short by 9 minutes. On day 2 Jenn rode with me and as I came to the point when my driveway was – RIGHT THERE – Jenn said, “Want to ride to the end of the street and back?” My head screamed NO! My legs concurred. But my mouth said “Sure”, because I didn’t want to appear weak and we rode a loop that gave us the extra 5 minutes we lacked to have gone the entire 40 minutes.

As we were out for our ride, we came to a place where the road is dirt (sand actually), that gives way to broken pavement and loose gravel. To make this all the more treacherous it’s a decent downward incline (I live in Southeastern NC, most everything is pretty flat) with a giant mud puddle at the end. As I was riding I was constantly looking ahead, choosing my path though the danger that created the possibilities for a crash. My safest way was very clear. I began to think about how easy it was for me to see the safest path and direct my bike tires to follow. Which reminded me of a scripture I loved as a teen Proverbs 3:5-6 (CEB)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
don’t rely on your own intelligence.
Know him in all your paths,
and he will keep your ways straight.

It was easy for me to trust my own judgment in choosing the path for my bike tires to follow yesterday. I was confident and self-assured that I would not fall and I would safely stay on my bike. But seeing life’s path is not as confident a place for me. Seeing God’s path for me isn’t always clear but  staying on God’s path is even harder. I don’t think I am alone in this struggle.

So, in this season of Lent, while riding my bike, I’ll be meditating on God’s path (while watching for cars and loose impediments); and engaging with those who can help me discern my path and spur me on.

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Not from your Bellybutton or Dryer….Lent

I had never in my life considered giving up something for lent. I actually have thought for most of my life (okay, until last week) that it was a silly practice that some weird religions practiced. And lets be honest – the people who always talk about ‘giving up something for lent’ rarely seem like the embodiment of Christ. It is usually some raging alcoholic (or close enough no one knows the difference) who gives up the drink for Lent then spends 40 days whining over Facebook (or twitter). Or your buddy who gives up Facebook (or twitter) but is dying to know ‘what’s happening’ from you always (so much so you want to just give them a ‘like’ sign).

However, recently I began to ask myself “self, what should lent look like?” How could this practice bring about a richer and more personal walk with God? Last night I even asked the question on my Facebook page.

 

I loved the answers I received. They were thoughtful and thought provoking. Still I waffled.

Do I really want to give up something for Lent?

The answer came back to me with a resounding YES! I do want to give up something for lent. But it had to mean something; I couldn’t just deprive myself of something for 40 days just to restart at the end without there being a deeper meaning. The question remained –

WHAT?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The answer came in something we’ve been trying to curtail for over a year – eating out. It is the expenditure we have been unable to tame – The ease, the convenience, the lack of mess. Having someone else cook and clean up is, well, just greatly enjoyable! I used to go just for the sheer joy of having someone continuously fill my sweet tea – since giving up sugar the never ending water service isn’t nearly as appealing (but I digress).

How, you say, can not eating out have meaning? 

One, as one of my friends pointed out on my Facebook, after 21 days something is a habit. The habit of eating at home – of having a plan, of prepping in advance for those overly tempting occasions – is a habit I wish to develop. Lent seems like a perfect time to stretch those habit forming muscles.

Two, there’s the money that will be saved. Eating out is expensive! Although we have been amazed at the savings of drinking water versus soft drinks or tea.

Here’s the plan.

Anytime in the next 40 days that my household struggles with wanting to eat out, we will:

  • Decide where we would have gone
  • Determine how much that would have cost
  • And donate that amount to a worth cause

As I sit here writing this, knowing that we’re broke, it seems impossible to consider donating. But to use Jenn’s new favorite quote “It’s the hard that makes it great”

What about you? Are you giving up something for Lent? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

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