My church is currently observing Lent – a season of spiritual discipline that leads up to Easter. We are encouraged to “give up” something during this time, apparently as a way to relate to the 40 days of temptation that Christ endured.
Although the denomination that I grew up in didn’t observe Lent, fasting and other forms of self-denial were commonplace. Regardless, the idea of denying myself something for an extended period of time every year feels both foreign and compelling.
I guess I like the idea more for carnal reasons than spiritual ones. I think it’s good to practice forms of self-discipline, whether that means pushing away the plate or turning off the television. Even so, in the four years that I’ve been attending my church, I have yet to participate in this tradition.
I think the main problem is that I can’t decide what to give up. Most of the things that people commonly abstain from seem downright silly. Surely giving up chocolate or soft drinks doesn’t really give one a deeper understanding of Jesus’ suffering, but I can appreciate how difficult it is to choose something meaningful.
Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of Lent, was last week, but I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to abstain from. Maybe my hesitancy is evidence that I don’t want to give up anything, because deep down, I really don’t. I don’t want to stop checking Facebook every ten minutes. I don’t want to quit Dr. Pepper, or stop watching “Big Love,” or order a salad instead of french fries.
But I guess that’s the point. Jesus went through hell in order to enlighten the world and save humanity. Surely I can give up something I really like for a few days.