I don’t often cry during a Google search, but I did today.
It started when I googled “family Lent activities” to get some good ideas.
If I am going to journal for my church about my Lent experience, I feel like I need to add some structure to the forty days. I doubt everyone wants to simply read about what it was like for me to sit at my kitchen table, drinking coffee and praying.
What do other families do for Lent besides giving up chocolate? Were there any helpful spiritual hints on the World Wide Web?
Would any of them help my search for Jesus?
Pages and pages of Lent ideas can be found. I think I started crying when I landed on the Lent Pintrest page and felt like I was shopping for a prom dress.
There was a succulent looking shrimp pasta dish for anyone who only eats fish on Fridays during Lent.
Cool “True Love” wallpaper for my iPhone can be purchased so that I could see a picture of the Cross every time I text.
And some hip looking beaded bracelets that I guess are supposed to remind me to pray while still looking fashionable and cool.
If my kids were younger, there were lots of activities to do with them to help them understand Lent. Like Pin the Tail on Jesus’ Donkey. Ok, I made that one up, but I am pretty sure it exists if I google it.
Because you know what one game was?
Holy Week Spin the Bottle!
My mind did a double take as I was quickly transported down memory lane to a middle school party in someone’s basement where girls giggled as the coolest boy in class suggested we all play Spin the Bottle (minus the Holy Week).
I nervously clicked on the link and breathed a sigh of relief to see a benign activity asking questions about Jesus’ final days. I wondered aloud why we couldn’t call this game something else.
And then I wondered if any of this would help me encounter Christ more in the next 40 days.
I clicked on one more link, a lovely photo of yummy cookies and learned that they were “Temptation Cookies.” I was supposed to make these with my family and then leave them on the table and not eat them so that we could understand what resisting temptation is all about just like Jesus did in the desert for 40 days.
And that is when I started to cry.
For a couple of reasons.
I was a little angry if I am honest.
Jesus had a close encounter with Satan after not eating or drinking in the DESERT for 40 days and if I bake cookies that I don’t eat, I can say, “I get it. I have resisted temptation too.”
Something just feels wrong with this.
I dramatically left the table and had a little tantrum. I might have clenched my jaw, rolled my eyes, or said a couple of mean things.
Jesus is patient with me in these mature moments, but thankfully He never lets me get away with them.
He used one friend to say, “I think you might be venting more than you need to right now. Just be careful. This shouldn’t be about shaming other people and their ideas.”
She was right. There is nothing wrong with trying to create fun activities that will teach our children more about Jesus and the power and significance of His death and resurrection. So many things demand their time and attention, and I love when parents are intentional and creative in their efforts with their kids. Especially when they want their children to know how much God loves them.
Sometimes though we want to make all of this so attractive that we neglect to tell our children that following Christ isn’t always as fun and cool as a Pintrest page. Especially when it means sacrifice and suffering and losing our life to find it.
I would like to say that was the main reason for my tantrum, but I kept hearing a quiet, patient voice asking, “Ok, but what else is making you so angry about this?”
Deep down I want this to be easy. I want life to make sense. I want to go online and find five activities to do with my family over the next 40 days and I want them to “work.” And by that, I mean, that as we play some game or read some passage or pray specific prayers together, my girls will open their eyes wide and say, “I GET IT!! I WANT TO FOLLOW JESUS!! HOW DID I MISS THIS??”
And then we will all hug and laugh and celebrate because the five activities we did during Lent changed us as a family. Everything now fits together like a beautiful puzzle and life works the way I want it to. I don’t have to wrestle with poverty or homelessness or war and disease, all of my prayers are answered, brokenness is healed, and I found it all in three easy steps.
I know life doesn’t work that way, but I want it to.
Can I trust Jesus even when life doesn’t make sense, and all the activities and crafts don’t really seem to make a difference?
Will I still seek Him regardless of circumstances?
I want to. Even though I have these google moments, I really really want to.
Lent Application/idea: As I sit and write this, I look at my refrigerator, covered with Christmas and holiday cards of friends and family far away. I know it is just about time to take them off the refrigerator, the last reminder of another Christmas come and gone. This year, we are taking those photos down, one (or two) at a time and praying for one family every night during Lent.
This is the second post in the current Lent Series.