On Tuesday (the day before Lent began, of course), I read a really inspiring article that a lot of my friends were posting on social media – 40 Bags in 40 Days. I immediately fell in love with the idea. I love decluttering and reorganizing and coming up with systems to hold all my stuff. I’m moving in a few months, and this would give me a kickstart in organizing my things to move. So I said to myself, “Let’s do this! This is perfect for me and my situation.” And therein lies the problem of why I’ve only participated in 1 day out of 3 so far, and why I feel little motivation to go 30-some more days with this decluttering schedule.
Because I made Lent all about me. My love of organizing. My situation of moving. My stuff.
From a secular perspective, Lent is a second chance at achieving our New Years resolutions. Wanted to lose weight but haven’t started? Give up sweets and soda! Need to save money? Pledge to not buy anything new for the next 40 days! Feeling spiritually dry? Promise to revamp your quiet times!
And then what is supposed to be a 40 day period of lament, fasting, and looking to Jesus becomes another self-satisfying, self-gratifying, self-improvement phase under the cover of a religious tradition.
Lent is about giving things up – not to give us bragging rights about how long we went without ice cream – but so that we are more aware of Jesus’ presence in our lives. Lent is about losing – not weight or clutter – but about losing our lives for the sake of the Gospel. Lent is about us – not our problems or our desires or our good deeds – but about our constant need for Jesus to be transforming us and making us more and more like him in his image.
Whatever we give up for Lent – that is not a bad thing. 40 Bags in 40 Days is not bad. Giving up chocolate or Facebook is not bad. But shifting our focus from Jesus to us? That’s a bad thing. Being proud of our endurance and willpower? That’s a bad thing.
The good news is that Jesus knows what to do when we inevitably turn His good things into bad things.
So maybe I shouldn’t give up quite yet on this 40 Bags thing. But the first things to go in a bag need to be my ego, my plans, and my pride – to make space for the only One who can really clean out my life.