Lent? Education Of A Baptist

It’s a little unnerving when I feel like I need to start my blog with a bit of an apology. I grew up in a small Southern Baptist church in the Foothills of North Carolina, and I like to joke about it a lot. In fairness, I joke about everything so this is not unusual. But sometimes I think it comes off as condescending. That is not the case. I could not be more grateful for my home church, the people there, and my parents for forcing me to go even when I was often snotty about it. That church made me who I am. Except that I don’t say that I’m Baptist anymore. In fact, I often refer to myself as a recovering Baptist. I’ve shaken off some traditions that don’t really suit a purple-haired, tattooed mama. But I don’t love Jesus any less, just maybe a little different.

The flip side of that is that this is the first time I’ve practiced Lent. I don’t really know anything about it, other than hearing people talk about what they gave up. They like to tell you the “what,” but often you miss the “why.” Why in the world does Jesus want me to stop drinking soda or eating meat for 40 days? This seems barbaric. So, as I am prone to do, I jumped in head first. I’m reading four vastly different books about the season from various perspectives. One is Super Catholic, one is for first time Lent people so it’s sometimes painfully basic, and two are pretty middle-of-the-road.

What I’ve discovered is that I needed to cut out one thing that separates me from God. What am I giving too much time/energy/resources to that would be better used on Jesus? I prayed about it, and as is often the case when you ask a question, I did not like the answer. Ya’ll, I have a Facebook problem. Do you know how ridiculous that is? I spend too much time on Facebook. I am 38 years old, raising three children, and I am too wrapped up in what other people are doing and thinking. This means I am not wrapped up enough in what the God of the Universe is doing around me. It seems so silly.

There are a number of reasons that I can’t eliminate Facebook entirely from my life. My husband and I do a fundraiser at this time every year, and a lot of it comes from social media. I am a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) leader in not one, but two groups. A lot of connecting and communication is done on Facebook. So I can’t turn it loose entirely, but I can drastically cut back. I allow myself twice a day to check on things, and often I post things without actually being on there.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far: I really like for people to like me and my posts. I have three really cute, funny kids. I like to post pictures of them. Can’t you see how adorable they are? JUST HIT THE LIKE BUTTON SO I’LL KNOW HOW AMAZING THEY ARE! Who is this crazy person and where did she come from?

Of course, Paul comes swooping in with his wisdom and such. Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Ouch. If you don’t think the Bible is alive and relevant, here is your proof. Paul just called me out on my mess.

We’re not even halfway through Lent, but it has already been so amazing for me. Not easy. Not without uncomfortable reflection. But I have to take a lesson that I give those magical, amazing kids of mine. When they were younger, I told them to be careful not to pinch their fingers in closets, cabinets, etc. But they just kept playing with them. And one day I realized, I cannot explain to them what this is going to feel like anymore. They are going to have to mash their fingers and learn the hard way. It’s not going to kill them, and it will be a much more memorable lesson if it actually hurts. I guess the Father teaches His children the same way sometimes.

Here’s hoping that the rest of this Lenten season is just as uncomfortable.

Julie