The practice of Lent is not a thoughtless practice, of giving up something just for the sake of giving it up. Quoting Jon Shuler on Ash Wednesday, "at the heart of the call of Lent is the stripping away of what really you don't want back and the putting on of what you would like to be the habit of the rest of your life." Lent is a facing of what we need to repent from , to expose our sins, to renew our commitment to Christ, to fast as a way to learn how to deny ourselves "to bring our flesh, our mind and our will into conformity with God's purposes." (again quoting Jon Shuler) It is about inward change.
It is humbling to admit that it took my 7 year old son's willingness to lead me to practice Lent. I don't think I would have ever considered it unless he had asked to do it. I think I tend to want to ignore the suffering of Jesus. To skip the story of Jesus' suffering and go right to the joy of His resurrection. The practice of Lent has begun to lead me to reflect on how my actions and thoughts have displeased God. I am uncomfortable looking at my failings and sinfulness. I don't like for things to be messy emotionally, I don't want to see the blood or acknowledge the pain. It is almost too much to bear to hear of the intense agony Christ suffered because of MY sin! Yet it is the very suffering and dying that brings me to God, to forgiveness and eventually from confusion and despair to hope. There is no real joy in Easter without the cross. The cost of my sins can not be ignored in favor of a joyful Easter. In fact, facing the debt He paid brings me from the point of facing the cross of pain to seeing the empty tomb of triumph. I'm not ready for Lent to end, I think I'm just now beginning to really understand, yet, I think I am more ready to truly celebrate Easter than I have ever been before. To be able to declare, "Christ is risen!" He is risen indeed.