Why I Gave Up Perfection For Lent

I grew up in a Lutheran Church.  A blue eyed little girl excited to sing loud the Hymns, to listen to the stories and to prove my worth and goodness. Every year, I looked forward to the time of Lent with longing anticipation.

It was a time every year where I felt purposeful. A time that I could prove my faith, my goodness by the things that I gave up.


In middle school I eagerly gave up meat one season (except chicken per request of my mom). Another season I practiced fasting one day a week. In high school, instead of giving things up I took it upon myself to work through a devotional.

Each year as the season progressed I felt accomplished in my journey of pleasing God.


Why wouldn’t He be impressed by my ability to give things up, my goodness and awesomeness?


But as I grew older I was faced with the reality of the Gospel. The stories that I had so long heard, the Hymns that I was excited to sing eluded my understanding as a little girl, until I was faced with the truth.


I was not good and I could not please God.

My understanding of perfection was far from that of the Bible. Although I looked at the Law and saw myself clean, Jesus looked at me and saw my sinful ways. I may not have murdered someone but I had anger in my heart. I may have attended church religiously but I did not worship the God of the Universe, instead I worshiped myself.

I, miss perfect, was convicted under the law as a transgressor, as one who had broken it.


If all of this was true, then what good was giving something up, what purpose did Lent serve?


This is where I found myself as a Christian, distanced from the church calendar and pews I had grown up with.


What was Lent?

In true fashion of God’s faithfulness He answered this question. Like most things I had done growing up through meaningless motions, the Lord was revealing to me the truth behind it.

Lent, unlike the season of advent {longing anticipation for the coming of Christ}, is the real understanding of our distance from God.

Lent is the time before Easter, reminding us of WHY Jesus came. He came to die, to sacrifice himself so that we may be saved because we need saved.

We CANNOT fulfill the law and in that have no hope of reconciling our relationship with God.

Enter Jesus. Pure and loving, humbled himself to come down to Earth, to live a perfect life, fulfilling the Law and to die a death he did not deserve so that through his sacrifice, we would be covered. In Jesus’ death and resurrection we exchange our sin for his righteousness.

Lent is a season for Christians to be aware of our weaknesses. To look inside our souls and uncover that which we believe, that which we hold onto that is not truth, that is not God.

It isn’t supposed to be a sacrificial act, a way of trying to please God because He has already given himself and it was sufficient.


Lent is a time to make space between the things that we hold dear, to eliminate things we draw life from that isn’t God.


For me that’s perfection. I long to perfect myself so that I might be worthy. In many ways I am still that little girl seeking her daddy’s acceptance, seeking to find worth.

But I am accepted, I am loved and I am seen as worthy. I do not need to clean myself up, to tidy my mess, or to make myself more loveable.

He loves me, mess and all. In that I can stand, I can find my value, that the God of the Universe would choose to save me, to cover me in His righteousness that he paid for on the cross.

It is finished. There is nothing left for me to do. I am loved. I am cherished. I am worthy. 


{A R K I N T H E D E S E R T}



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  1. Alison Tiemeyer says:

    I just love this. THIS is the real reason behind Lent – to understand our brokenness and our need for a loving & graceful God. Giving up perfection is the perfect step toward this. It is the ultimate way of saying, "I will never be good enough except by Your grace."
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. Ona says:

    I can relate to this. Sometimes I get in the habit of only seeing my good and think I’m so good because I did this. But then God helps me refocus on just how much of a mess I am. Despite being a huge mess he still loves and accepts me. Oh, I love that. Thanks for sharing.

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I love a good plain t-shirt, pizza, snuggling with my dog and hanging out with my husband. My mission? To speak truth and grace to help encourage other women to know they are never alone.

I'm Sarah Jean.

I’m the girl who came to realize the freedom in not being the author of my story.

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