We often associate this season of Lent with giving things up—some indulgence, some bad habit—and we often view the activity of giving something up for Lent as an exercise in self-denial. While it certainly can be that, and there can be real value in self-denial, this process also turns out to be an exercise in the much larger task of giving up in life. A small act of giving up turns out to be a testing ground, a spiritual preparation for one of the great surprises of adulthood—just how much we will be about relinquishing things, illusions, or self-destructive activities.
I also thought about one of the hardest things for a mature school community (substitute, church family) to accept, that it cannot do all or be all things for all people. Fewer prospects are more difficult for a school (church) to bear than having to consider ways in which it occasionally must give up on the seductive activity of constantly taking on one more project, program, or expectation. As with all forms of giving up, we worry that it is a sign of defeat. (Emphasis mine).
One of my favorite writers used to talk about Lent as being “Easter in disguise.” Faced with the sobering task of having to give up on something, we do not in turn face a diminished future. In fact, the process of giving up...is the entry point to a new and much fuller life.