You might not notice it at first, but if you hang out with me for any length of time you’ll pick up on it. I walk with a little bit of a limp. I’m actually kind of proud of it. I got hit by a truck when I was a kid. Right after it happened my first gut reaction was “Wait a minute. Aren’t I supposed to be dead?” I wasn’t. Every day I’ve had since then has been a bonus. I’ll take the limp.

While thankfully everybody hasn’t gone through what I’ve gone through, we all have our own version of that story. The phone call we got that changed everything. The job loss, the illness, the death of a loved one. While we might not have a literal limp, we are all walking around, bruised and broken and scarred.

At the heart of it, I think that’s what this Lent season is about. We may mess it up and turn it into another diet gimmick or hip cause of the month, but the idea behind fasting for Lent is to sacrifice something. Take up your cross and follow Jesus.

The thing is, we all have crosses that we’re carrying around with us. You just can’t see them. It’s the raw deal that life dealt us all in some way or another. None of us are without sin. We all have failings and vices and temptations. We’re all human.

But we’re not alone in this. Jesus was human too. He walked everywhere and I’m sure his feet got sore. He had no place to lay his head, so I’m sure he often felt that fatigue that comes with little or no sleep. His enemies pursued him; his friends betrayed him. But through all of that he kept his eye on the ultimate goal: God’s plan to save us all.

That’s what I love about Lent. We deny ourselves something earthy, bodily, human. We then pick up our cross – our flawed, sinful, broken selves – and follow Jesus.

One of the first things Jesus said publicly was “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” This is the place our minds and hearts need to be in order to serve him and serve others.

Die to yourself daily, pick up your cross, and walk with Jesus. Limp and all.

A few ideas for commemorating Lent:

  1. Give up something: There’s a million ways to go about this, but usually it involves some small indulgence, some little vice that’s unique to you. Mine is usually diet sodas or fried potatoes.
  2. Take something on: Add a new spiritual habit in the place of the physical one you gave up for Lent. This could be reading the Psalms, prayer, journaling, or donating to missions.
  3. Don’t make a big fuss about it: Jesus specifically called out those who bragged about fasting. This isn’t a diet thing – it’s a spiritual thing.
  4. Take Sundays off: Every Sunday of Lent is a time of celebration.
  5. Make it communal: The Christian life is meant to be lived in community. Go to special Ash Wednesday and other Lent services. Do a Lenten devotional with your family.