Let The Good Times Roll, Gem Gang!
I hope you all enjoyed this Valentine's and President's Day long weekend. It was a very refreshing time for me, and I am grateful for the space created to experience many self-reflective moments.
Thank you for your great responses to the Favor February Prayer Challenge. I would like to use this opportunity to pose another challenge. Some of you already observe the Christian tradition of Lent. Others may not be fully aware of what Lent is or why it is especially important for me this year.
Here is my attempt to share a little bit of history about Lent, The Spiritual and Boujee Way.
I am from Biloxi, Mississippi, home of ground mullet, good crawfish, and of course, Mardi Gras celebrations. Mardi Gras is embedded into our culture just as much as shrimp and grits! An essential part of Mardi Gras is Ash Wednesday, the day after Fat Tuesday. On Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, we party and gorge all we can eat because it is the last day of our carnival season. Traditionally, carnival begins on December 26, so if you ever visited the coastal south and got caught in a parade, that is why.
Catholic Christians worldwide attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, and some are adorned with ashes on their forehead to represent their sacrificial commitment to their religion. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, which lasts until Easter or Resurrection Sunday. These 40 days are significant because Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying in the wilderness sometime before his crucifixion. On Ash Wednesday, everyone who is healthy and of proper age is supposed to fast all day. In addition to this day of solitude, they also are charged to refrain from meat consumption Saturday - Thursday and only eating fish on Fridays.
Although I do not practice Catholicism, Lent's tradition is strongly connected to me and influenced my upbringing in a major way. I remember fasting every Ash Wednesday growing up because I participated in Mardi Gras the previous day. I can fondly think back on my school cafeteria and local restaurants serving fish on Fridays in the Spring and our church or community fish fry each week. I recall my family discussing everything they would be giving up for Lent and, of course, my Auntie Cheryl writing it all down to keep us accountable. Our sacrifices would vary from cigarettes to sex to fast food and even alcohol; you know, mostly our vices.
This year in particular Lent is special to me because one of my I AM statements is I Am Disciplined. Over the next 40 days, I am devoting myself to practicing self-control. I am giving up the consumption of land-dwelling animals, including dairy products; I am also taking sugar and caffeine out of my diet and limiting my alcohol intake by only enjoying a maximum of 16 ounces of wine on Fridays and Saturdays.
During this time, I also look forward to gaining more insight and confidence, my other 2021 I Am statements. I hope these 40 days turn into lifelong dietary changes for my family and me.
You are my Spiritual and Boujee family. I would love it if you decided to join me on this new journey as I connect with God through fasting, meditation, prayer, and substantiating from my weakness and dependence on certain foods. I am sure some of you can relate to me. There have been times when I was disappointed or upset and grabbed chocolate instead of my Bible, or ate cake before kneeling to pray, and even poured a glass of Scotch while I processed challenges when I should have been meditating.
Gem Gang, observing Lent is something I share with my loved ones and makes me feel close to home especially living so far away now. I know that I am giving up a lot, but that is crucial for me to find my personal way. Maybe, you can participate with me on the weekends or just one day a week. Even if you can only fast for a few hours on Wednesday I challenge you to try Lent, The Spiritual and Boujee Way.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward, there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
Hebrews 12:11 NLT
-Yours in Love and Light,