Lent carries with it the mindset of, “If I must give up something, what will I be least miserable to be without?”  But more than Lent inviting us to give something up (such as chocolate or Facebook, or Facebook posts about chocolate), Lent is really an opportunity to create space for more of God and His grace.  Giving up chocolate, for example, is never the end goal, but rather a means to an end.
I remember when Calleigh lost one of her front teeth a few years ago.  In the absence of that tooth she exclaimed, “I get to drink through a straw with my mouth closed!”  She was so excited about that simple “gift” – drinking through a bendy straw.  In her little mind, this was freeing, worth celebrating.  Personally I would hate having to be without a front tooth – the embarrassment of the gaping hole, the frustration of having to alter the way I eat, the whistling lisp when I speak, etc…  But Calleigh saw the freedom now available to her through an absent tooth.
And that describes what Lent is about.  It’s about how giving up something creates a gap – greater space to encounter God through the conduit of a specific Spiritual Practice.  In the absence of chocolate, for example, you may insert such straws as Solitude or Silence or Service or Fasting.
And, similar to a straw, the Spiritual Practice is a conduit.  The Spiritual Practice of Silence, as an example, is merely a “conduit” – a straw through which God’s grace can enter into us through those newfound, celebrated gaps.
Let’s consider what “teeth to pull” for Lent.  But rather than complain to others about what is now missing, let’s keep our mouths closed.  And, with mouths shut, celebrate by inserting a Spiritual Practice through which you can drink God’s grace.