I am 29 years old, and have never given up anything for Lent. In the past, I figured expending spiritual energy to "do" something for God made more sense than to "not do" something.
It took me nearly three decades to realize that we are always "doing" something. The glass is never half full. It is always, always, totally full -- of something. If there is half a cup of water, the other half is air. Whatever we "add" to our schedules results in the removal of something else, either knowingly or unknowingly. Whatever we "add" to our thoughts results in the crowding out of something else. This principle holds spiritually, as well.
If I face a day carrying half a cup of worry, I have less capacity for faith.
Recently, I have found myself intellectualizing our baby's condition. Intellectualization is a "mature" psychological coping mechanism, which supposedly reduces anxiety by accruing knowledge with which to combat the unknown. The only problem is, the unknown actually broadens with research -- the world of Google has made little to no information off limits. I have literally made myself sick analyzing a thousand possible outcomes for this baby's life, the vast majority of which (999 out of 1,000, in fact) will never occur.
It is no accident that my pursuit of worry has coincided with a gentle prompting towards fasting. At first, I ignored this spiritual inclination by reasoning, "I will discipline my body, but I will not discipline my unborn child's". Fasting in pregnancy is not a good idea. Well, fasting food, anyway. As a dear friend brought to my attention yesterday -- maybe there is something else I am supposed to give up in this time. I knew, right away, that God was prompting me to give up other means of coping with the unknown.
Today marked day 1 of not Googling anything about our child's health, potential health, development, or potential development. Half way through this day, I realized it also marked the beginning of Lent. So I suppose, for the first time, I am giving something up for Lent.
Though really, I am not giving up so much as substituting. The time I would have spent acquiring useless statistics about the cavum septum pellucidum, the cisterna magna, and various other Latin words I wish I had never encountered, I will use to set my thoughts on higher things. God is able to heal, and even if He does not -- His people must not bow to lesser things. Intellect -- especially in Western society, and especially in the field of Medicine -- is one of the most often worshiped gods.
I will not bow at that altar, not any more.
He has given us good things. He has promised us better things. He is able to save, and has told me this child will be well. And it is past time that "not doing" something becomes part of my worship. In choosing to "not do" worry, intellectualization, and everything that may attempt to exalt itself against the purposes of God in my mind and heart, I am making a simultaneously choice to "do" faith.
Faith, my friends, is one of the greatest things God has given us. It is a gift subservient only to Love, which ultimately represents God Himself. So here's to a life totally empty of my own means of "dealing" with the unknown, which makes room for a life totally full of Him.