Although I grew up in a Christian household Lent is not something we ever observed. The churches I went to growing up were not denominations that ever really even mentioned Lent. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even know what Lent was until I was in middle school. The first time I ever gave anything up for Lent was my Freshman year of high school and then it was only because one of my friends was giving up chocolate and convinced another friend and me to do it with her. It didn’t really mean anything to me though.
I still don’t belong to a church that prescribes Lenten sacrifice, though it generally is mentioned as something people might consider doing. I have done it off and on for the past decade. Most years I do decide to do something, but I don’t always. I think it’s a good practice to sacrifice something and to be able to reflect on it. It’s been interesting to see how many people I follow on Twitter said they were giving something up for Lent. I have no idea how many of them are doing it out of real religious conviction, how many are doing it because it’s a thing to do, or how many are doing it because they feel the Catholic guilt if they don’t even though they aren’t really practicing Catholics.
It’s also interesting to see the variety of things people choose to give up. The trick is to find something that actually feels like a sacrifice, but isn’t something you’re going to bail out on in 2 days. I generally choose to give up sweets. I have a major sweet tooth, and I find Lent to be a good opportunity to try and rein that in. I know a lot of people just give up chocolate, but that isn’t a big enough sacrifice for me. I would just replace chocolate with some other sugary treat and call it a day. So I have to give up all sweets because it actually feels a little bit hard. I’m not nearly as tempted by snacks like chips, etc. so I won’t just replace whatever sweets I was eating with something like that. Thus I don’t have to give up all junk food like some people are doing.
I think deciding what to give up can also be instructive for areas where you may want to work on in the future because they have a stronghold of some sort in your life. For instance, I took some stupid Buzzfeed quiz about what you should give up for Lent and my result was television. That one hit a little bit too close to home. I’m totally willing to give up sweets for 40 days, but for me giving up television for that long is unthinkable. I know a lot of people in the past who have given up things like Facebook or Twitter. Again the thought of doing that pinches a little too much. It probably means I’m a little too addicted to these things and should at least consider short fasts from them even if I don’t go a whole 40 days.
So I’ll see you on Easter sugar when I’ll be sure to stuff my face full of Easter candy like I never even let you go.