THE LENT CONSPIRACY
By Tim Walker
Regardless of the type of church, Easter is a big deal to Christians. In fact, it’s the bookend to Christmas. The Part 2. The continuation of the story. The sequel that builds on the original in a bigger and more amazing way.
And however your church celebrates Easter, there is one thing that seems to come across in many churches: It’s more than just a typical Sunday.
But in some faith traditions, remembering Easter actually begins weeks before. In the weeks leading up to Easter, many followers of Christ throughout history have observed a tradition called Lent where they give something up—fast from something—for 40 days as a way of focusing on the season.
Maybe you’ve known someone who “gave up” something for Lent. For 40 days, that person made a choice not to eat or do something that would be part of his or her normal routine. It could have been chocolate or red meat. Maybe it was Facebook.
And for most people who observe Lent, it’s simply that, giving something up.
But what if we reframed it. Shifted it. Remixed it.
What if instead of designating something to give up, you decided to trade in?
In fact, what if your trade meant that you were able to focus on something Jesus focused on—other people? What if it meant you were more intentional about the time you spend together as a family?
Regardless of whether Lent is something you’ve ever practiced before, or whether this is the first time you’ve ever heard of it, you can reframe Lent so that instead of taking something away, you’re trading one thing in for something better.
As a parent, what if, during the next 40 days, you took some moments and made a trade?
What if you traded in your phones for a movie night?
What if you traded in Facebook for shooting some hoops?
What if you traded in TV time for family time?
What if you traded in lunches out at work for dinner out with the family?
What if you gave up something to gain something with your child?
And what if you got your teen to do the same?
What if, together, you both came up with some index cards listing things you would be willing to set aside for a while in order to gain some relational time together?
It might mean leaving your cell phone at home.
It might mean spending some money to do something and giving up something else to compensate.
It might mean getting a little less “me” time.
Sit down together. Grab some index cards. And write down some things you would be willing to give up for a while. Then take your cards and use them as coupons to cash in on time together.
Maybe your card says “Farmville” because, well, you’re obsessed with it. You have crops to tend. Things to exchange. Whatever you Farmville people do. But you give your daughter your index card and say, “I’m giving up Farmville Thursday night so we can hang out. Let’s make a plan.”
Or maybe your son comes to you and says, “I’m giving up the Xbox tonight so we can watch a movie together.”
But you come up with the list. Choose something that might not be easy. Choose something that you default to all the time—whether it’s your smartphone, the gym, whatever. You know what it is.
Then encourage your son or daughter to do the same.
Then over the next 40 days, trade that in for time together.
Time just hanging out. Having fun. Talking. Doing. Living.
Trade the escapes, the substitutes, the distractions in your life for the relationships in your life. Make a beautiful trade—one thing for something better.