Lenten Sacrifices: what gives?

27 Feb

What to give up for Lent?

Last Wednesday was the start of Lent for our family and for many of our friends. It means that the Easter holiday is in just forty short days. Forty days to prepare yourself, however you choose to do so.

For many people, myself included, the big question is always “What should I give up for Lent this year?”

Last week, when I was in a particularly flippant and cynical mood, I posted on Facebook, saying that there wasn’t a whole lot to give up, and that as far as my beloved chocolate chips, well I just couldn’t go there. Not this year.

We live a pretty frugal lifestyle right now, so we sacrifice so much it seems, already. We only buy what we absolutely need, we only go out when we have freebies if at all possible, and we have given up pretty much everything, for just a short while longer. But, it leaves not a whole lot left to give up.

Or so I thought.

I was surprised though, my kids all chose something to give up, even though none of them are 14 so really, by the church’s rules, they don’t have to give up anything. We do abide by the no meat on Friday rule as a family though, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me a whole lot that they wanted to partake in this part of Lent as well. Even if they don’t make it the whole 40 days with their sacrifices, I’m proud of them for trying.

And then came the question….

“Well Mommy, what are *you* giving up for Lent?”

BAM!!

There it was.

How could I not give something up for Lent if they all were? One was even giving up computer time. Gasp…I could never.

But I went back to that Facebook post from last week and re-read some of the answers that were there, this time I was in a more serious mood, less joking than I was when I originally posted, and I really began to consider them one by one, except Barbara’s who said to give up Facebook. Nope.

I liked the one from Dolores’ priest, who said to try to complain less. I don’t think I complain a lot, but then if you ask my family, it’s really all I do, in their opinion. 🙂 I guess I could try that one.

But there were several others that I liked also, people whose priests suggested adding positivity to your life by trying to do a particular something more often, something good, something positive. I liked that.

Another friend said their priest suggested trying to do something that’s hard to do normally, something that takes extra effort, whether it is being nice to someone you don’t like a lot, or something like that. Also a possibility.

We too, went to church on Ash Wednesday and our deacon said something I found interesting as well, he mentioned that you might start praying for someone who needs it, and you might not even know that person personally, but you might know of them and know they need the extra prayers, so you could add that into your day.  Very thought provoking idea.

However, one thing stuck out most from all the friendly comments and suggestions. Dolores’ priest said, “and if you fall off the wagon, get right back on and try again.”

I guess I liked that piece of advice the most because in my mind, no one is perfect. No one is successful every time, but it’s the thought and the effort that counts.

During this time of Lent, I think it’s more about taking the time to think and reflect and make the effort to work on something, whether you’re giving it up or adding it in. It is about making yourself a better person, or at least trying to be a better person. I know we all try to live our lives to be the best we can be, but I also know that for me personally, there’s always room for improvement. And who knows, it only takes three weeks to form a good habit or something like that, so if we do end up being successful for forty days, then maybe the new good habit or whatever change we make, will stick for the long term.

And that, a true Lenten lesson, was my takeaway from what originally started out as a flippant Facebook post. Think, reflect, try hard and then try harder.

And if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

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One Response to “Lenten Sacrifices: what gives?”

  1. Sue Meyerson February 28, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    What a nice post! reminding me of that time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when I, too, do some soul searching, to try to become a better person in the year to come…thinking of you…and glad you aren’t giving up the choc chips!!

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