For some people, the days and weeks between Mardi Gras and Easter are a time of deprivation, of giving up something one holds dear (but not too important) — dessert being a prime example.
I wasn’t raised in this particular tradition of Lent, although I have known a number of people who do give up chocolate or sweets, among other things. That’s not saying that I shouldn’t give up sweets…
But I often wonder, why give something up if you are not going to replace it with something else? My own personal experience with dieting (and believe me, I have plenty of experience!) is that if I just leave an empty hole — and empty space — I will soon fill it with something, whether that “something” is the item I just attempted to take away (sweets = diet FAIL) or something else (exercise, knitting, chewing gum). Well, with 1-2 feet of snow still on the ground outside, I am not going to be doing a great deal of walking; I don’t know how to knit; and after an episode of TMJ, I now rarely chew gum.
So for those of you who have chosen to give something up for Lent, I’m curious: what are you giving up and what are you putting in that empty spot?
And for those who do not observe the season of Lent, do you have any special ways of making the connection between giving to others (an external act) and making it somehow internal as well?
Do you believe it is important to give until it hurts — or at least until you notice the difference in your life?