As you reflect on what to give up for Lent this year, it’s hard not to think of all the things you’ve already sacrificed. For many, this past year has felt like one long Lent, and it can be difficult to think of something else to give up. What can you sacrifice for Lent when it feels like you’ve already sacrificed so much?
“It feels as if we have been experiencing small-l lent all year,” she said. “It feels like we’ve ‘given up’ so much. We’ve given up seeing loved ones, we’ve given up family gatherings, we’ve given up holidays with family. We’ve given up parties, we’ve given up weddings that were planned. We’ve given up a lot. It seems like, wow, I have to do more?”
Keaton encouraged listeners to enter into Lent this year by having a radical rethinking of Lenten sacrifice. And she shared that her own radical rethinking was born out of personal experience. For Keaton, the pandemic began with the loss of her mother. Though the cause of her mother’s death was not Covid, it was because of Covid that she was not able to attend her mother’s Rite of Christian Burial.
“It started my year in a very dispirited way,” Keaton recalled. “I’m someone who I consider to be pretty joyful most of the time. But I couldn’t find the joy. I couldn’t find it. I didn’t know where to find the joy.”
Keaton began working with a spiritual director, and it was through that guidance, prayer, and meditation, that she came to a radical rethinking about what joy was and where to find it.
“By the grace of God I remembered that I couldn’t look for my joy in the work that I did, not even in the people with whom I worked. I couldn’t look for joy in my studies, or even in the individuals in my family. I could only find my joy in Him who is the source of all joy,” she said.
As you enter into Lent this year ask yourself if you are looking for holiness in the sacrifices you make, or are you looking for it in the Person you are sacrificing for? Does the Lord care more about you giving up Facebook, or about you giving your life to Him?
Keaton shared that this radical rethinking of Lenten sacrifice has not only had an impact on her, but on those around her as well.
“In my heart, as I grow in intimacy with Christ, as I am healed of the fear, the worry, even the anxiety that the pandemic and everything else brought this year, I am renewed in my call to serve,” Keaton said. “And I am called to motivate others to serve.”
“That, to me is a really great way of looking at the Lenten sacrifice,” she said. “Because now I am surrendering myself, I’m sacrificing myself. A complete surrender to God’s will. A commitment to follow Him, to grow in intimacy with Him through prayer and meditation. And to use this joy to go out and really serve others. I think it’s incumbent on us to take this journey and be blessed by it.”
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