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?
My own personal example is the money I donated toward the relief efforts in Haiti. I used money I had “earmarked” for getting my hair colored, so I’ve now gone an extra 6 weeks with the gray growing out. I didn’t want to just give, I wanted to feel the difference — in this case, to bring to mind the Haitian people every time I look in a mirror and to remember their suffering — not in a way that brings guilt, but in a way that grows compassion.
I’m not saying this to brag, but to give an example of sacrificial giving.
Karen — I just read on Alastair’s blog the other day about Lent being a time of self-improvement. We have all gotten so fixated on “giving up” it has become a ritual, not a growing experience.
Alastair suggested instead of the giving up, that we should add — add relief work, or Bible Study, or exercise — and with it all combine spiritual growth.
I ordered a Bible Study what I thought would be plenty in advance, but it just arrived. I should be looking at it instead of typing here!
Art does Lent, but being raised “Catholic Light” — Episcopalian — it’s not in my vernacular or was never drummed in me. I just try to thank the Lord a little more often for all the blessings I have. May not be Kosher, but works for me. 🙂
Lent is actually a time of drawing closer to Christ. It is about relating to the suffering that He went through on the cross for us and drawing our hearts nearer to Him before His grand AWAKENING on Easter morning. The giving UP of something that we dearly love (like chocolate) was meant to bring about a minute portion of suffering to show our Lord that we appreciate what He did for us — and the giving up should be something that is truly HARD for us to do so that we have to seek HIM in order to not fail at it. Last year I did indeed give up desserts and it was tough – but it wasn’t tough enough. This year, I didn’t think I was “giving up” anything — I thought I was simply devoting an hour a day to journaling with Jesus… but it turns out that doing that actually IS giving something up. It’s giving up an hour a day — to HIM! And I’m finding that giving “time” IS hard — but when it is spent in prayer – one hour of solid written prayer each day — it is all about benefit to ME! It’s only been a few days, but my relationship with the Lord is already growing. I look forward to that time each day – be it morning, afternoon, or evening. I prefer morning because my head is fully able to kick into gear and concentrate where by evening, I find myself struggling to focus on Him… I’ve given up coffee with blog friends… I’m spending my coffee hour with Jesus!
Well, I’ve given up junk food (chips, candy and fast food), soft drinks and alcohol. They all kind of go together. If I’m sitting around watching TV (usually sports) I tend to snack on chips and stuff. Which makes me thirsty. So I get a soft drink which allows me to eat more.
So I gave both of them up. Then I added alcohol for a couple of reasons. 1) Alcohol is full of calories and if I’m giving up bad stuff, I should give up all the calories of alcohol too. And, 2) The other thing I tend to do in the evening and on weekends is drink, which makes me hungry. So they all go together.
So far I’m replacing this things with feeling sorry for myself. But, eventually I would like to replace them with something more productive. I just don’t know what that will be. 😉
If you read my own blog post while I was trying to decide what to give up OR what to do extra; but, I did finally give up my coffee. My MORING coffee (and of course, coffee in general).
I don’t always have to have my morning coffee but I totally miss it when I really want/need it.
I’m not a big carb drink addict, though I do drink iced tea. But, I haven’t replaced the lack of coffee with tea. I drink the same on average.
Um, I might be having more ‘carb’ mornings though… possibly…. 🙂
I just give from the heart and if something is given up so be it. And if nothing is given up again so be it. Just the way I’ve always been 🙂
I don’t believe that you have to give until it hurts. I don’t think the equaling or leveling of all assets or money is Christian value or an American value. People should give what they feel comfortable giving. I personally don’t want to “feel” my deeds of charity in a bad way.
For lent I gave up alcohol. And I am making sure that I participate in weekly mass, confession and stations of the cross.
“Giving until it hurts” ? Wow. Never thought about giving that way. Whenever I give, it makes me feel great! Even when I give up things like caffeine or sugar as a Lenten sacrifice, I end up feeling so good physically that it is worth it, and that maybe I’ve missed the point there. If we’re talking about actually suffering being the point, I would have to give up reading. I don’t think I could do that without real withdrawal symptoms…