I’m terrible at New Year’s resolutions like 90% of the rest of you. For 7 years now I’ve resolved to juggle 5 by the end of the year, and only this year did I actually buy 2 more softballs to add to the 3 I can already juggle. New Year’s Day is a terrible day to start anything new anyway. You are tired, the day is short and cold, you aren’t in your groove because you have the day off work, and it’s rarely a starting day like Sunday or Monday.
Instead, let me present to you the ancient practice of Lent.
Lent is the period of time where traditionally, the church has fasted and prayed and repented in order to prepare for Easter. A period of treating yourself severely to make yourself more holy in preparation for Easter Sunday. Some people fast from chocolate, or red meat on Fridays, or social media. It’s like many other fasts, where people typically abstain from something that is really a good thing to abstain from. You’d be healthier and better off to lay off the chocolate and steaks on Fridays anyway!
Lent offers you a chance to change your life for better reasons than the changing of the year. You can change habits in your life because Jesus has risen from the dead! With an eye toward Easter Sunday, you can choose what stuff to give-up and add to life in a different way than you would on New Year’s.
It’s not about holiness. Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection have fully completed all of our need for holiness. It’s not about self-improvement, because Jesus is using the Holy Spirit to work inside of you to make you as improved as He wants you to be. It’s about habits and preferences and the little things we do in the day that either stall life or point it toward the Lord.
Take these bright and getting brighter days leading up to the anniversary of the greatest event ever and give your habits a jolt. The increased time with the Lord will grow you and the time away from whatever you fast from will make you healthier. And then on Easter, your celebration of Christ’s resurrection will be richer because you aren’t just marking it on the calendar, but in practice.