The season of Lent is upon us.
A season of repentance, reflection, and grief for the upcoming death of Jesus, many Christians observe Lent by “giving something up,” from chocolate to Facebook. “Giving something up” comes from the tradition of fasting for Lent: restricting one’s eating as a way to grieve the death of Jesus and to remember that we rely entirely on God, not merely on the food before us. Fasting from food in different times and places might look like eating one meal in the evening, not eating while the sun is up, not eating meat, or other practices. In recent times, Christians have included “taking up” fitness practices like running, walking, or yoga in lieu of a Lenten fast.
Given this, Lent is a hard season for those who have experience with eating disorders, body dysmorphia, or other disorders and illnesses. Fasting is not necessary for Lent. If it is not safe physically or emotionally for you to make a dietary or fitness change, don’t do it! Lenten practices are not supposed to be a cause of shame or illness, or an unhealthy focus on changing our bodies to meet an arbitrary societal standard. When God came to us in Jesus, God came in a body of flesh, blood, and bone. Jesus’ human body is evidence that our bodies aren’t bad; they are good, beautiful, and holy, created in the image of God.
There are many ways to remind ourselves that we rely on God, to mourn the death of Jesus, and to connect with our faith journey together during Lent. In our community, you can join us for Lenten meals and worship – meal at 6pm, worship at 6:45 – on Thursdays. We will also be reading a Lenten devotional based on the writings of Martin Luther and associated scripture passages. Maybe your own Lenten discipline will be a prayer practice, a 40 day spiritual art project, or acts of service – or maybe this year you won’t have one! All of these are more than acceptable.
If this season is triggering for your eating disorder, you’re not alone, and help is available.
May the peace which surpasses all understanding be with you during this season.