How does a born and raised Mormon girl turned Agnostic, decide to celebrate the Christian practice of Lent as a 43 year old?
Totally fair question.
Allow me to backtrack for a sec.
Every year I choose a single word or phrase to guide me that year in my goals and how I live my life. In the past I’ve used the words grace, create and vision to name a few. For 2020 my word is ‘honor’ as in I will honor all the parts of my whole, my emotional health, my body and physical health, my role as a mom and a wife, my role as Mandy in the world outside my home, all of me. And in exploring how to honor all of me, I’m finding things I want to learn more about.
Growing up in a Mormon household meant I didn’t have a lot of exposure to other religions but I did know that my best friend Jodie got to leave school early every year on a Wednesday and when I would see her at the end of the day everyone in her family looked like they all forgot to wash something off their foreheads after trying to clean a fireplace. (Zero disrespect-just a childhood point a view!) I had no idea what Lent was.
As I got older and eventually moved away from my Mormon upbringing I learned more about Lent and the tradition of mirroring Jesus’s 40 days of sacrifice and withdrawl in the desert by going without something as sacrifice leading up to Easter Sunday. Honestly, I was fascinated by the tradition and ritual. But I was also finding a new belief system and trying to understand what fit where for me, personally and spiritually.
I believe there is a divine choreography of life and
that there is something greater than us, but I’m not really sure what that is and I’m no longer
willing to say I have the answers.
I’m now embracing being Agnostic, and it’s a scary thing for me. Coming from such a deep well of religious specificity I have claimed that I just didn’t agree with specific doctrine in relation to my LGBQT+ brothers and sisters in the world and that was sufficient. But what I’m actually experiencing is a little deeper than that. I believe there is a divine choreography of life and that there is something greater than us, but I’m not really sure what that is and I’m no longer willing to say I have the answers. I don’t. And I’m finding comfort in that.
So how does Lent apply to me?
Spring is naturally a season of renewal, a reset and a period of time where we refresh our homes and clear out the clutter. It seemed like it would be a good time to do the same for my mind and body. And to try something new, but if I’m honest, it also has a spiritual element of a nod to my inner self. I feel the need to honor my body and my mind and I think the practice of Lent is the way to do that right now.
If you read my last blog you know part of what I am going without for the next 40 days is my opinion of other people. That part is to honor my heart and my mind and find more peace. I recognized it was something I was consumed with at times and wanted a purer version of life for myself. But also…my body was calling for attention. In an effort to listen I’m also giving up sweets. It sounds so cliche, right? More people I know give up chocolate, dessert or candy for Lent then probably anything else. But giving up sweets is a sacrifice for me right now while giving up my opinion of others is more of a practice.
So there you have it.
How does a Mormon turned Agnostic girl celebrate Lent?
One (or two) sacrifices at a time.
And while we’re here…next on my list to understand and embrace might be the rosary as it relates to the practices of mindfulness and meditation, mala beads. I have a feeling this is going to be quite the year of exploration.
Until next time…