I grew up in a Christian home and church that didn’t observe Lent. I knew of it, but it wasn’t something I ever put into practice. I always thought it was more of a Catholic thing, something that had no bearing on my faith. But over the past few years, I’ve thought about the practice of observing Lent and the idea of giving up something I love for 40 days, to give honor and glory to the suffering Jesus Christ endured for me.
I’ll be honest: my faith is not where it should be right now. It’s been almost a year since I’ve been to church. I read my Bible, but I rarely pray unless it’s to ask for something. I feel so far from God and I feel so confused about my faith lately. I know what it is and I know what I stand for, but I struggle sometimes to put it into practice. I struggle being of the world.
My idea for observing Lent this year comes from a selfish place: wanting to get control over some of my addictive habits. But I thought long and hard about my desire to do this and I feel like using Lent as my guide for why I’m doing this will help me to carry it out to fullness.
So for the next 40 days, I will be completely eliminating all chocolate and soda from my diet.
My two biggest vices are my soda and chocolate consumption and it is going to take so much willpower to resist them for 40 days straight. I know it will be hard, but I also know I am capable enough to do this. I have it in me to eliminate two things that bring me great joy and pleasure. (But also, admittedly, intense feelings of guilt and failure.) It’s a different kind of suffering, a first world kind of suffering if you will. But Lent is about giving up something that you love, something that will cause you to try to understand the depth of Christ’s sacrifice.
Ideally, I would love to stop drinking soda period, because it brings absolutely zero health benefits and is just horrid for my body. Plus, I drink regular soda (although I honestly don’t feel like diet soda is any better) so that’s a lot of sugar going into my body on almost a daily basis.
As for sweets, I want to eliminate them for 40 days and then slowly add them back into my life on a more moderate basis. (As of right now, I eat sweets daily, sometimes two or three times a day. Bad, I know!) I want sweets to be a special treat, not a daily occurrence.
By eliminating soda and sweets, I will be severely cutting down on extra calories, fat, and sugar, which will help with weight loss efforts. And more than losing weight (though that is a major benefit!), I think it will help me feel better. It will help me feel better physically – by giving me more energy and forcing me to snack better. And it will also help me to feel better emotionally – by proving to myself I can resist something I love for a period of time and also to find better coping skills for when I have a bad day. (You can keep the wine. When I’ve had a bad day, nothing cheers me up faster than a cold Dr. Pepper and some cookies.)
I am prepared to see this through to the end, so feel free to text me, message me, email me, leave a comment, or do whatever to ask how I’m doing throughout these next 40 days. Knowing people are going to be asking me about it is just what I need to make sure I don’t give up. (Accountability is so key, especially when it comes to losing weight.)
I’ve always been intrigued by the practice of observing Lent, because I believe giving something up for 40 days that you think you can’t live without is something we should all try to do. Maybe it’s social media for you, or watching TV, or complaining about trivial matters, or sleeping in, or eating meat. Whatever it is, whatever your beliefs, giving it up for a period of time will only prove how capable you are of doing something you never thought you could do. And only gives you a jumping off point to try to do more things outside your comfort zone.
Are you observing Lent this year? If you had to give something up for 40 days, what would you choose?