Before I tell you why, I want to be clear about something.
I do not believe for a moment that our particular suffering makes us holier, better, greater or more precious than any other person on earth. It does not make us special. I believe that suffering does whatever work it does in us, that we allow God to do. I am doing the best that I can to allow God to continually make me into who He made me to be. Some days, I do better than others. I love God, but some days I do not want to look Him in the eye. I belong to Him, and am in love with Him, but some times I just can't quite face Him. I talk, instead of listening. That is fine, until it isn't fine anymore, and then I get quieter, and we communicate differently.
Lent is bothering me this year because it occurs to me that, whatever we might do about it, whatever we might offer up as a sacrifice for Lent, we know that, at the end of the allotted time, we are able to take it up again. It is a symbolic gift to God, something given up for Him, and for our growth in grace. We want to be better people, so we submit to some kind of deprivation in His honor. But whatever it is, unless we want to continue to live without it, we can have it again at the end of Lent. We can rejoice in Easter, and have our gift back.
Our family lives in a kind of perpetual Lent. Katie is gone, and is never coming back, not for her birthday, not for Easter, nor summer vacation, Christmas, my 50th birthday, not for anything. She is given, and she is our reminder that Lent is not simply a symbolic time in the church year; for some, Lent is a way of life. As I've quoted Jackson Browne (Sky Blue & Black) before:
"You're the color of the sky reflected in each storefront windowpane,
You're the whispering and the sighing of my tires in the rain,
You're the hidden cost and the thing that's lost in everything I do,
Yeah, and I'll never stop looking for you
In the sunlight and the shadows and the faces on the avenue.
That's the way love is..."
So I am intentionally NOT giving up anything for Lent, and I may never do so again; I don't know. Maybe I have a bad attitude, and I could give that up for Lent. But this year, I feel as if the greatest sacrifice that I can imagine has already been given, and I can't think of anything else that would matter, if I offered it. Because I feel very much submitted to God through this experience, and I think that God knows that. And I think that my "everything" is enough for Him.
From sweet Carrie Maniscalco's Caringbridge site (if you are able, please pray with her, or stop by and offer a word of encouragement):
"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10