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What are you gaining during Lent?

Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Christian on Ash Wednesday (Credit: Jennifer Balaska via go to great lengths to avoid lint throughout the year. We have lint rollers for our clothes. Our dryers have lint traps that are equally functional but also inconveniently bothersome. And then there is bellybutton lint, an unfortunate result of the fall and gross instrument of torture among siblings.

But something magical happens forty-six days prior to Easter. On this day, also known as Ash Wednesday, we as a society no longer avoid lint but celebrate Lent. We go so far as to tell our Facebook friends, coworkers, and family members about our plans for this stretch of the year. Our repulsion of lint morphs into an attraction to Lent.

The season of Lent encompasses the next six weeks, ending on Easter Sunday. This is a time for penance, fasting, and reflection. During this season, it has become somewhat of a cultural tradition for individuals to communicate what they are fasting from—giving up—this Lenten season.

Some are giving up and many are joining in. According to Barna, seventeen percent of U.S. adults plan to participate. Sixty-three percent of practicing Catholics are planning to fast, while only sixteen percent of practicing Protestants have similar plans. People seventy years and older are most likely to fast (twenty-six percent), though people between the ages of fifty-two and sixty-nine are least likely (ten percent). And what about those finicky millenials? Approximately twenty percent say they will fast.

Traditionally, many who participate in the Lenten season give up meat on Fridays, opting for fish instead as their protein of choice. But some go further than simply fasting from meat. In 2014, over 650,000 took to Twitter to tell a selective listening world what they were giving up, according to Christianity Today. Leading the pack was chocolate, followed by Twitter, school, alcohol, and swearing.

While the week is not over yet, the selections are pouring in. Chocolate, alcohol, and social media are leading preliminary lists compiled by Christianity Today and But please note this is not to be confused with those who are giving up social media while they enjoy chocolate-flavored alcohol.

What is fascinating is the emphasis on what you give up, but very little communication on what you gain—namely, God. Fasting awakens your awareness of the divine. It is a very real reminder of your source of provision. Man does not eat on bread alone, and fasting reminds you of the only thing you need—God.

Andrew Murray said, "Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God."

This may be your first year of participating in the Lenten season. Or this may be your umpteenth year. But instead of sharing with a selective listening world what you are giving up for Lent, why not tell them what you are gaining through the Lenten season?

Speak of what God is teaching you.

Share what God is impressing upon you.

In fasting, you are resolving in your soul that God satisfies every need (Psalm 145:16). But satisfaction is often coupled with communication. If you are satisfied with your customer experience, you write a good review. If you are satisfied with your grade, you share with your parents. If you are satisfied with your dog, you say "Good boy" in a childish voice like they can understand.

Satisfaction leads to communication.

As someone who resolves to be satisfied this season, don't just tell people what you are giving up; share with people what you are gaining.

"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (Psalm 90:14)."

Share during this Lent season, just don't share your bellybutton lint.

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