Updated: Dec 26, 2022
In the faith tradition I practice, the season of Lent is a pretty big deal. It’s significant for me too, but it isn't the same since my son Chad died. Since then, I often feel like it's Lent every day. Day after day after day. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just a real thing.
A few weeks ago an unsuspecting friend asked: “What are you giving up for Lent?”
Are you serious? You’re joking me, right?
"Nothing", I said. "Nothing ever again."
Yeesh, I grumbled to myself. Can’t believe anyone asked me that.
(I’ll admit I was a little bit testy, and I suppose it seems like a harmless question, but it threw me for a loop. That’s the thing with us grieving moms… unfortunately you never know what’s going to set us off.)
I gave up Chad - that’s what I gave up for Lent. I did the same last Lent, and the one before that too. (Not that I remember much about these last few years.) And I’ll keep giving him up, for all of the lenten seasons in the future too, for the rest of my life. It’s a terrible thing, but it is what it is.
Of course, my loss was not my choice, but in this messed-up head of mine, that’s not the point. The point is I’m pretty sure that continuing on with my own life after Chad died (and accepting his loss) classifies as my "A Number 1" biggest offering/sacrifice EVER. - hello…
That said, I do think Lent is a good and purposeful thing. I'm "all in" for the observation of liturgical seasons, preparing ourselves for spiritual encounters and potentially life-changing revelations. I understand the quest to go deeper and to get humble and silent and turn away from what doesn’t serve and move toward what does. The journey requires all of that (and then some), and it’s amazingly good. I deeply respect the intent.
It's just that all these powerful things one quests for during times like Lent got smashed down on me the day Chad died. I was humbled, quieted, and pulled into the depths in ways that no lenten offering could achieve. I was crushed with questions of understanding, pummeled by a mess of meaning, and refined by a heavy cross I didn't want but wasn't given the choice.
So (respectfully), I think that God is okay with me not giving up something (more) for Lent.
Because God is REALLY big, with really big ways. He's bigger than Lent, bigger than my small imaginings, bigger than Chad and everyone else too. God is definitely bigger than death.
In fact, He overcame death.
That’s why I’m sitting here, writing, waiting, and grateful.
Because my Big God is preparing for the Big Resurrection Day, and when that finally comes, there won't be any more Lents.
And no one will ask me ridiculous questions ever again.