Last year, I gave up online Tetris for Lent. Maybe you, like a lot of people I told, just laughed out loud. But it really was a big deal for me. I was about a month into my first call, had just moved to a new town, and we were still in the grips of winter. I had no money, time, or energy to develop hobbies, get to know the city, or frankly, do much of anything besides go to work, go to the gym, and go home.
So when Lent rolled around and I began to think about the state of my life, I decided it was time to stop using online Tetris as a crutch. It was keeping me from building a life, for crying out loud! It was keeping me from flourishing, which is what God desires, isn’t it? In many ways, playing online Tetris (and yes, the regular USA Today Crossword puzzle and Mah Jong game) was keeping me from being human.
But when the topic of sacrifice and discipline came up in conversation, most people just laughed. Granted, many of the people I told were my colleagues who happened to be at least fifteen years older than me. And granted, they didn’t know me very well at the time. But it still hurt to have someone laugh in my face because they thought my sacrifice was trivial and silly. What if they had asked me why? What if we could have talked about the struggles I was going through adjusting to a new place, new job, new life, new relationship with God?
This year, I made an even bigger decision about sacrifice. I gave up knitting. I knit every day; it’s at the top of my list of favourite things in the world; it relaxes me; it connects me with others since most of my projects go to others. And some people have laughed— some have even been concerned about how I’m going to make it, since they have gotten to know me and my heart. But it took a friend from outside of the Christian community to ask the important question: What does knitting symbolize to you?
We had talked about what Lent was, and I mentioned a list of things I was considering doing to observe the season. And a couple of days later, after seeing my decision, instead of laughing, instead of jumping to a conclusion about my character, he asked why. If he hadn’t I don’t think I would have realized the most important reason why I should give up knitting for Lent. Because as I thought about why, I realized that knitting makes me feel human—the very thing I began to work on last Lenten season. And as I came to terms with the fact that knitting is the crutch I use to feel human (especially as I continue to recover from a back injury three months ago) I was convicted by the fact that God wants me to flourish much more grandly.
So I look forward to knitting again as part of my flourishing in God’s kingdom, but until then, I am open to learning from the Spirit all of the other ways God has made me to enjoy this good world and life he’s gifted me with. And I hope that, when someone comes to me with their problems and concerns, I’ll be quick to listen, slow to speak, eager to understand why, and open to joining another image bearer on a journey of discovery.