Sometimes, you write something to others. Sometimes, you write something to yourself. This blog is for me - not in a selfish way, though. I just need this reminder. I’m making it public because I bet some of you need the reminder, too.
Lent is a time that you give things up. You don’t like it, but you do it anyway. That’s great. You awaken your desire for God. In your fasting, you limit the amount of other things satisfying you. Maybe it’s a hobby you stop doing, a bottle you stop opening, a word you stop saying. In all of it, you feel an ache - and you give that ache over to Jesus. You’re reminded that only He can satisfy your deepest, truest desires. That is a wonderful thing. You give things up, you get holier. High fives all around.
But something strange happens when Lent is over, Dom. You stop giving things up. You just… return to normal. This is not - I repeat, IS NOT - the appropriate response to the resurrection. “Back to normal” is not the motto of people celebrating an empty tomb, a risen savior, and new life for all.
Now, after 40 days of fasting, are you instantly cured of all your sins and addictions? Usually not. After Easter Sunday, some of your vices come rearing back into your life. But, if you listen closely, and ‘tune your heart to sing His praise’, you will hear your chains hitting the ground. So, I think you should be giving up things for Easter, not just for Lent.
Be honest. Most of Lent, you gave you things because you had to. But in Easter, you give up things because you can. It’s the freedom season.
See, you returned to the comparison game, Dom. You weren’t on social media for Lent. But when you went back on Easter Sunday, it wasn’t long before you started to feel crappy about the progress you made, because other people’s progress seemed more impressive. You began to doubt God’s purpose for you, and question the effectiveness of all that you’ve been working on. It’s a tough little trap, and you know it. That’s why you were off social media for Lent in the first place. But this is the season of RESURRECTION. The tomb of living for other people’s approval has just been emptied, and God put his love for you on display. It was His love for you that held him on the cross. He delights in you, so you can go ahead and give up comparing yourself to others for Easter.
That’s just one example. You know there’s many more. Your anxiety. Your impatience. Pick any of your bad habits, while you’re at it. Those chains are falling to the ground, those stones are rolled away, those tombs are empty. If it’s a sin, that’s obvious - it needs to go. But even the things that aren’t sinful should go if they’re not making you fully alive. You gave them up for Lent, but now you should RELEASE them for Easter.
How? Well, first just remember that everything has changed. All is not as it was before. What was once set in stone has been shifted. in fact, the stone has been rolled away. Everything changes when Jesus gets involved, and He always gets involved when you invite Him in. Jesus probably could’ve just walked through the stone, but he rolled it away. Why? Maybe so we could see that everything, even the big, intimidating stuff, is under his authority, and can be moved at his command.
Then, have some resolve. Identify your habits, addictions, and behaviors that don’t bring life. Release them, in Jesus’ name. That only sounds hokey until you see it work. It’s not for some other Christians to do. It’s for you to do. So, commit. Start. Fail, start over. Just like you do during Lent. You know how to celebrate 40 days of fasting. Now, celebrate 50 days of freedom.
You’re not cured of your sins. You still have struggles. You aren’t perfect, but you are free. Live it.
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are an Easter people and Hallelujah is our song.”
— ST. POPE JOHN PAUL II