I didn’t give up anything for Lent.

There, I said it.

It’s not because I don’t think this is one of the most important times of the liturgical church year. Nor is it that I don’t believe there are things in my life that deserve to be abandoned. Important too is that I fully support any one who has chosen to give something up. One year I gave up television (except for the Oscar’s. For that we made an exception. Ahem.). I’ve given up chocolate, all forms of refined sugar, baked goods, chocolate and more chocolate. Are you seeing the trend? The hope is always that whenever I really wanted that thing I’d given up I would use the opportunity to turn toward God. That did occasionally happen. More than often it did not.

I long to learn more about sacrificial love. I deeply yearn for connection with God. Honestly, I do find that it is in the dark, challenging times that I am most keenly aware of Him. I am most definitely on a Lenten journey. I walk alongside loved ones who are sick and friends who are oppressed and marginalized. I touch death often. I weep over broken relationships. I sin. I struggle to find the resources needed to keep a precious community going. It is in these moments, these “giving ups” that I can do nothing but turn my gaze in the direction of God. I am forced to my knees. I wish that giving up chocolate would produce the same effect.

This Lent I am aware of how messed up everything is, including me. God’s promise that,” my yoke is easy and my burden is light” does not always feel true. It just doesn’t. As I look toward Easter I marvel at how my journey, however challenging and heavy it might be, is not the same as the one Jesus was on. It doesn’t need to be precisely because Jesus chose to do it instead.

I stand humbled.