[giving up]

Lent comes to a close this weekend.

I’ve been quiet (at least on social media) about Lent this year. I gave something up this year (sweets) but the verse about not letting on that you’re fasting really stuck with me so I decided to not discuss it publicly.

But I do want to take a moment to talk about my experience this Lent.

You see, I believe in giving things up for Lent. The trend lately has been towards doing something for Lent instead of giving something up. Giving up is often portrayed as having impure motives (weight loss, selfishness, etc) whereas doing is portrayed as more spiritual.

But both can be equally spiritual experiences.

It’s all in your intentions.

I chose to do both this year.

Let me explain why.

Growing up, Mom would always insist that we give up something we truly enjoyed. Giving up vegetables was not allowed. To this day, I select something that I really love to forego during the Lenten season. I can’t honestly say that my motives were always pure.

Yes I’ve given things up to gain attention.
Yes I’ve given things up to kickstart a diet.

But this year I set a deliberate intention on Ash Wednesday. I wanted to learn to rely more fully on Christ.

Through foregoing something I absolutely love, something that I turn to when things get rough, select as a reward for something good, something that I feel I cannot make it through a day without, I can redirect my attention elsewhere. For all my talk of faith, when it came down to it, when things got rough or when they got better, I didn’t turn to Christ until that evening before bed, if I did at all.

Instead, I reached into the pantry.

And it worked.

I’ve noticed that I pray more throughout the day. I’ve noticed that I don’t feel so dependent on food. I’ve noticed that I confront whatever comes my way instead of grabbing something to eat. I’ve noticed that I lean into Him before anything else. I’ve noticed that I feel better, physically, mentally, & spiritually. I’ve noticed that when I feel better, I’m more alert, more present.

At the end of the day, it really is all about your intentions. So next year ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing for Lent. Remember the reason why we celebrate Lent (at least, why us Catholics do): Christ spent 40 days fasting & being tempted in the desert so for 40 days we can get more deeply in touch with our faith by experiencing, at least in a very minor way, that sacrifice & temptation. Remember how beautiful that experience can be. Remember that giving up doesn’t have to be selfish if you approach it with the right motives.

Those motives don’t have to be the same as mine. There isn’t a one size fits all answer here. All that matters is what you chose to do prepares you for Christ’s resurrection on Easter.

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