“What are you giving up for Lent?”
That’s often a question we hear this time of year. The Lenten Season kicked off yesterday with Ash Wednesday. During Lent Christians all over the world choose to give something up during the 40 days leading up to Easter. This practice reflects the time Jesus spent in the wilderness. It’s also an opportunity to remove a distraction that may keep us from experiencing Jesus more fully.
I know people who have given up social media, sleeping in and television. I can see how all of those things could prevent someone from experiencing Jesus more fully.
A lot of people, though, use Lent as a spiritualized diet, giving up ice cream or fast food. Abstaining from ice cream and fast food for 40 days isn’t a bad idea, but I don’t know how big of a distraction those food items are. I’ve never said, “This ice cream is really keeping me from following Jesus.”
The things we give up and what we replace them with should draw us closer to Jesus in some way.
Which is why I’m making my Lenten Season all about the treadmill.
Now I realize I just wrote that we shouldn’t turn Lent into a spiritualized diet. However, one of my goals for this year has been to lose 50 pounds. Part of it is a body image thing, part of it is wanting to be healthier but a big part of it involves my life with Jesus. God gave us bodies; we are physical beings. We cannot disassociate our spiritual existence from our physical one. Even after we die, we will be given new and resurrected bodies. So for me, honoring Jesus means honoring the body that he has given me.
I haven’t really been doing that very well. A few years ago I weighed less and was healthier, which was the result of eating right and running on the treadmill. I had an old treadmill upon which I poured countless drops of sweat. When Alycia and I got married and moved in together, that treadmill went away and I started exercising on the elliptical. I enjoy the elliptical, mostly because it isn’t as difficult as the treadmill. I traded the treadmill, which was more difficult but helped me align my physical life to what I thought Jesus wanted for me, for an elliptical, which was easier and didn’t necessarily get my physical life closer to Jesus.
So as much as I hate it, I’m giving up 30 minutes a day over Lent and filling that time with the treadmill. Even though I’d much rather spend that time leisurely reading on the elliptical. The treadmill may not be the most spiritual tool in the world, but it can help me line up my body and soul with Jesus.
What are you giving up or adding to your life for Lent?