Written by Timothy Brophy II
I didn’t give up anything for Lent this year, at least not in the traditional sense. But before you start thinking that I’m a bad Anglican, let me explain.
At first, I simply couldn’t decide on what to give up. In the past, my go-to things have been some type of food or social media. However, I recently finished a thirty-day diet, so I’m not too keen to abstain from certain types of food any time soon. I have also gone without most of my social media accounts for several months now, so that’s not an option either.
Then, I began to wonder why I felt like I should give up something at all. Would it be a big deal if I didn’t give up anything this year? Well, no, not in the grand scheme of things. But might I be missing out on an opportunity to receive something from the Lord by not caring? Yes, I believe so. So, I considered the purpose of this ancient Lenten practice. I came to realize that the point is to give up something that inhibits or distracts from your relationship with God. It’s not so much about what you give up, but why you give it up.
With this in mind, I examined my heart and tried to identify something that inhibits or distracts from my relationship with God. The Lord showed me that I tend to let shame separate me from Him. When I sin, I often feel too wicked to approach God’s throne through prayer. Sometimes I even have a hard time believing that I’m forgiven after I’ve confessed my sins to the Lord. This shame is like a heavy burden that I carry around on my shoulders far too often. However, this feeling of unworthiness is directly contradicted by Hebrews 4:14-16, which says, “Since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God…Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Thanks to Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, I have given up shame for Lent. As I seek the Lord this season, I won’t let shame inhibit my relationship with Him. I encourage you to examine your heart as well and see what the Lord shows you. So many people carry around heavy burdens on their shoulders that inhibit their relationships with God. Perhaps it is time for us to give these things up to our loving Father in heaven. We all need to take Christ’s advice in Matthew 11:28, which says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”