In the Spirit: Giving-up stories for Lent | News

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I didn’t grow up with Lent, not as a season for discipline or preparation.

I had some vague awareness of Catholic friends not eating meat on Fridays – gimme that Filet-O-Fish notwithstanding – but mostly that calendar time was filled with thoughts of spring.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to see, and value, the wisdom in “giving something up” to refocus one’s spirit, come back to priorities, and have a bit of humility in this human journey.

Along the way, I’ve given up coffee, caffeine, social media, television and dessert.

Looking back, those give-ups didn’t really accomplish much. Not in terms of “real” growth.

If I’m honest, they were slightly more successful versions of New Year’s resolutions, with a spiritual leaning. I could more or less get through 40 days without coffee better than 40 days building a more excellent me at … whatever.

This leads me to conclude that, more than likely, I was missing the point of Lent. Maybe, you have, too.

This year, I’m branching out a bit and have been practicing a tad differently.

It’s not too late to join me, either. Lent isn’t over, so there’s still time.

Here’s my hypothesis: Lent isn’t about the “thing.” That thing you’re giving up so that you’ll focus more on God, or improve your prayer life, or put yourself in the place of someone without all your privilege. So don’t give up “the thing.”

Give up what’s “behind” the thing, what’s under the thing, what supports the thing.

Most likely, that’ll be a story. A story about you, a story about the world, a story about God.

A lot of our stories need, well, a lot of revision. If you’ve paid even the slightest attention to what’s been going on in Ukraine, for example, you’ll see a battle of stories.

Vladimir Putin has a story about what Russia is supposed to be, which is being countered by the narrative of the Ukrainian people about who they are. Both these stories have consequences. In fact, all our stories have consequences.

I’m guessing Lent is about seeing where our current stories lead and more to the point, it’s about inhabiting a different story, one that moves through darkness and death, to transformed, indestructible life.

It’s not about that other thing. It’s actually about your life.

So think about it … what story could you give up for what’s left of Lent? Maybe, if we all try this little experiment, we can begin to do something about all those stories at work in our world that are leading to places we don’t want to go.

Chad Smith is the CEO of HumanWealth Partners. He tweets @TheHumanFire.

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