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My First Experience with Lent

By Jill Knuttila

At first, I had no clue what the heck Lent was. Growing up in a Protestant background, I didn't practice Lent. I heard of Lent, but I never understood the concept.

When I started attending the Orthodox Church, it was at a time where Lent was going to start. Good timing, huh? I didn't know exactly what Lent was, so I asked my good Anglican and Orthodox friends about it. I found that Lent was a period of time where we would fast, and use that hunger as our hunger to get closer to God. Also, it helps us to remember those who are less fortunate and cannot have food to eat. It helps us realize how blessed we are, and thus give thanks to the Lord. At least, that's my simplistic way of putting it.

I have to point out too the circumstances of this first time of me celebrating Lent. I am going through some major issues right now like dealing with being physically abused, emotionally abused and sexually abused. I should also mention too that at this time, I have rededicated my life to Jesus Christ. As I was (and still am) going through my searching for a church stage, I had pretty much thrown God out the door, but something in me had refused to give up.

Anyway, I was able to gather enough information from friends so that I could partake in Lent. The first week of Lent, which is the Orthodox way, I think, you cut out meat from your diet. Then the second week you cut off dairy products. After that, I have no idea. LOL. I found that even just cutting out meat from your diet, I found my stomach growling a lot. Every time the thought of "Boy, am I hungry" I changed that phrase too, "Boy, am I hungry for God." Thus, I became less aware of me being hungry for food. It may sound silly to you, but it worked for me.

However, I am sad to say that I was not able to continue with the fasting. I became very sick with a chest infection and it wouldn't be good for me to cut out my proteins and dairy. I needed them both energy and strength not only because I am sick but because am going through major emotional issues at the moment. Thus, I am not performing the fasting part of Lent, which I am disappointed in, but I am still doing the major part of Lent, which is praying and spending time with God alone.

Being an ex-Baptist, I wasn't too sure on how this spending alone time with God was all about. This what I came up with. First, I got myself what I call My Prayer book. Here, I write down the prayer requests of my friends, and my list of what I am thankful for. From here I am able to say a prayer. Besides the prayer, I have decided to read 1 and 2 Samuel. Why those specific books? I am a big fan of David, and well, I think his journey with God is somewhat sort of like mine, though in very different circumstances.

So, here is what I do. First, I pray. I pray by giving thanks first (this is where my list of thanks comes in), then I go through the prayer requests (this where my prayer requests list comes in, including my own. I say my own last), and finally I pray for wisdom and that the words I read today will be placed in my heart and mind for good. After prayer, I read the Bible. I usually read a few chapters at a time, depending on how focused I can be. Sometimes I can read only 2 or 3 chapters. I never force myself to read more than I can. Why? Because I see that if I force myself to read more, the words will just be a blur and will not reach my heart.

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So, in conclusion, this experience with Lent has been awesome thus far. I have found that I enjoyed it and haven't seen it as an annoyance. I have a renewed interest in the Bible, and have a renewed spirit. I think that Lent, so far, has brought me closer to God than I have ever been. In short, I believe Lent is a very good opportunity for those who have fallen asleep in the Lord to pull up their bootstraps and start fresh and new.

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