Understand Lenton resolves; make commitments your own

The Lent season is quickly approaching. Many Christians are talking about what they plan on giving up this year and contemplating how doing something different in their lives for 40 days will make them better people and bring them closer to God. I have often overlooked the importance of thinking about what I participate in during a religious season such as Lent. Making a commitment of any kind without a reason is not beneficial. It is important to consider the purpose a small change in life has hopes of making a big difference in the long run. Lent originated in the third century A.D. among early Christian communities. People who wanted to join the Christian religion went through three years of teaching. When they were chosen for baptism, they had to be removed from the community for a period of time for prayer, fasting and reflection. This period of time developed into our present day Lent. Now this Christian season is the 40 days before Easter.

Understanding the origins of Lent makes it much easier for me to make it a meaningful experience. Lent is characterized by prayer, fasting from food and festivities, as well as almsgiving. All of these acts are meant to put the focus on God.

Many people give things up to remove what stands between them and God and bettering themselves. For example, giving up secular media gave two of my friends a chance to focus on Christian media and have more time to reflect on their faith without the distraction of television, music, movies and magazines. Others give things up because their friends are or because their parents told them they had to. The point of giving something up is not to make other people happy. It is a chance for you to better yourself.

On the other hand, some believe Lent is not about giving anything up at all.

The Rev. Katie Low, assistant pastor of the TCU Wesley Foundation says, “In my opinion, it is not about giving up something, giving more to charity, volunteering or even adding something in my life not usually done.”

Low said Christians were a minority in Greek and Roman society, and most people worshipped Zeus. The early Christians had such a sense of awe and commitment to their religion, she said.

“Since Christianity is a dominant world-view in America today and a majority in our culture, I often find myself losing that sense of wonder and of hope that my community is different and life-changing,” she says. “To me, this is what Lent symbolizes.”

When considering a decision to better your relationship with your God, whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jew or of any other faith, remember to make sure the decision is right for you. The experience is your own and will only be meaningful if you customize it to fit you. Whatever is distracting you in your life can only be determined by you.

Michelle Anderson is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Tyler. Her column appears Fridays.