A friend of mine, Adrianna, gave up eating out for lent. In that, she is even including the cafeteria at the college where we work.
Another friend of ours had a birthday on Sunday and wanted to go out to eat lunch this week in celebration. Adrianna was torn. We talked about it a great while. Should she not go? Well, that is not very uplifting and supportive of the birthday girl. Should Adrianna go and only have a glass of water? Would that make everyone else at the table feel badly that we were eating in front of her or that we weren't good enough people to keep lent?
The answer? What would you choose? My friend was really torn about this. A lot.
This was what was decided. She would go and eat because Lent is about being nearer to God. In this case, it was felt that by excluding people she was stepping away from God. By breaking the fast of eating out, Adrianna was sacrificing her commitment and that that too, was good. The passage that kept coming to my mind was where we are told not to do anything that may cause another to stumble. I know that is not the best passage of Scripture for this particular situation and yet, it is the passage that continues to return to me. By sacrificing and eating with us, Adrianna was setting an example of loving and giving of herself for others. Now, I was the only one of the four women that would be at that lunch that knew all of this but it was an example of faith to me.
Lent is not about the legality of strictly abiding by some goals that let's face it, some of us made the morning or afternoon of Ash Wednesday when we saw the ash smudge on someone's forehead and finally remembered it was Lent and yea, we should probably give up something, not because we're Catholic or have good reason or may not even understand the purpose, it's just what we do. Sorta like a New Year's resolution, but easier because it's only about 8 weeks instead of 52. Lent is about doing something to draw nearer to God. Lent is about loving and living more deeply in the Holy Spirit. Lent is about realizing what Christ lived and died for. Whom he lived and died for.
I'm guessing there are those who would disagree with the above decision and say that Lent is more important, Adrianna should not have gone out to eat and that I am justifying the decision that was made. I wondered that and I think that the reasons we first came up with were exactly that but God used those to draw us deeper into conversation and prayer and that's where we ended up. Well, almost.
Adrianna actually got the flu and stayed home to keep from spreading it around. But if she hadn't been sick, we would've enjoyed her company greatly at lunch on Tuesday.