My fellow moms how do you view Lent? Is it punitive, redemptive or a combination of both?
Before I had children Lent was an exercise that I did to just get through. As a child I would give up the usually things: candy, soda, and by week two I would have broken my promise and that was that; not another thought given to it. Becoming older, high-school or so, I would go through periods of being very faith filled. Lent was an exercise I did because I wanted to be “holy”, but truthfully I had no idea what that meant. College found Lent was more of a nuisance than a spiritual practice. I think it was because at the time I was growing up Lent was more punitive than redemptive. More Fire and Brimstone than Love and Healing. I just could not respond to that. It hurt too much.
When I married and we started having children my view of Lent changed. I viewed, and try to have my children view, Lent as more about positive changes that will connect you to God and your nieghbour. Our eldest two boys, (29 and 24 respectively) still observed Lent as a time to give something up. I always encouraged them to add something: a good work, prayer time; but I was one of few mothers in my group of friends who encouraged that. Our twinnies were being taught to see Lent as a time of reconnection, renewal of their relationship with God.
I came to believe more and more in the addition of things that helped your spiritual life. It fit in with my husband and my parenting philosophy, that love and guidance with good consequences did more to change and help a person grow that fire and brimstone which often made a person shut down emotionally and spiritually.
I don’t see God as vindictive. Jesus always treated those who came to him with gentleness and compassion. So, why should we view Lent as anything other than a time of gentleness and compassion?
For me it just makes Lent more Christ-like, more genuine.
Lent to me has become more communal. Lent is more about giving in to God than giving up.