I was confirmed Catholic circa 1998. And even though I stopped actively practicing Catholicism about 10 years ago (still actively practicing my faith, just not under Catholicism), for the last 14 years or so I have attempted to sacrifice something (usually food of the chocolate/sweets variety) beginning on Ash Wednesday and going through Easter.
And let me give a minor confession here: I have failed about … 40-50% of the time.
I remember in 10th grade I got a candy necklace from someone the day before or the morning of Ash Wednesday. Naturally, I had given up sugar for Lent. And naturally, It completely slipped my mind that I had done so. I ended up putting a blue candy piece in my mouth during first period. My neighbor (who teased me about my faith in a I-have-a-crush-on-you way) promptly reminded me, “Uh, didn’t you give up sugar for Lent?” I immediately dropped that candy piece out of my mouth. However, since this blue candy piece was attached to a necklace around my, you guessed it, neck, it rolled out of my mouth and down my chin. I looked like I’d gotten a chin peck from a Smurf.
I would actually say that most years I’ve made it the whole time without my vice. Every year I failed I’ve had a reason (read: excuse). Though I could blanket them all under 1 category: Marriage. It’s harder to give up something when the only other person in your household eats it all the time, and you two use it as an emotional bonding tool. (More on Friday Night Ice Cream in another post). One year Hubs was just about to deploy and, well, I couldn’t waste that precious bonding opportunity! One year I was in Japan, and as you’ll read in my upcoming “102 Days in Japan” series, I was basically obsessed with Japanese chocolate. Last year… I don’t remember. Which means I probably didn’t make it. 🙂
This year, I just could not figure it out! Chocolate is no longer a sacrifice – I crave shrimp and hot sauce more often these days, as I told you here. So, what? TV? No, I only watch about 4 hours a week anyway. Commit to writing everyday? A surefire way to make sure I don’t write – forcing me to do it. So what?
Right now I’m thinking – fruit fast every Monday. Use it as a way to rely on strength through God at the beginning of every week. (Because I love to eat, people).
So why am I participating in Lent if I don’t practice Catholicism? My reason is 2-fold: 1) I love the idea of fasting from something. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice. Surely I can shift my cushy lifestyle for ~42 days. And 2) I like the challenge. I think anytime we commit ourselves to a challenge, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, we are making ourselves better. We are pushing ourselves past our perceived limits and saying, “Let’s see if I can do this.” If we have a relationship with God, we’re improving that. If we involve food, we’re trying to be healthier (unless you’re the Super Size Me guy). If we involve other people, we’re improving our relationships. Either way, we can’t go wrong. Plus the Lenten sacrifice requires discipline, a sorely missing trait from modern society.
So, see, Ash Wednesday is not just for Catholics. It’s also for used-to-be-Catholics who just piggyback and use this time to see if they can give up one of their vices.
You tell me:
Do you practice Lent? What do you give up? Do you have a go-to sacrifice, or do you try to mix it up?