Traditionally, the Lenten season in the Christian liturgical calendar is a perceived as a time of sacrifice. I remember a friend telling me that he slightly resented “having to give something up” for Lent. “I think I’ll give up… smoking.” He wasn’t a smoker. Jokingly, he chose to “fast” a bad habit that he didn’t even have, so he could feel good about his Lenten sacrifice. Here’s the thing though:
Most of us have bad habits. That we could give up. And feel better by doing so.
Maybe it is a novel thought: sacrificing something that doesn’t serve us; giving up something that would help us feel more authentic and whole if we abstained from it.
Participating in the Lenten tradition doesn’t have to be a burden. Instead, it can relieve a burden. One year, I chose to ‘give up’ my negative body image talk. (It lasted about two days, until I put on my skinny jeans…) Another year, I tried to give up walking too quickly, because I didn’t want to rush through my days anymore. (Again, this lasted about two days because I double booked myself for two appointments and had to rush to the second one.) This year, I’m giving up being annoyed. I can’t tell you how many times a day something trivial upsets me and I’m immediately annoyed. Isn’t being annoyed still super annoying?
I may not succeed fully, but I can at least try sacrificing the burdening habit of annoyance. Your challenge is to do the same. Give up a habit that is a burden.
Finish this sentence: This Lenten season, I’m giving up ______________.
anger? resentment? holding grudges? negative self-talk? gossiping? complaining?
Don’t choose something like ‘doing the dishes.’ That’s funny for about 2 seconds (and never funny for the other person in your household). Choose to give up something that is standing in your way, keeping you from becoming happy, healthy, and whole.
Remember: “The spiritual journey is never about holding on. It is always about letting go.” – Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Tell me about your choice. I’d love to hear about your Lenten experiment. It starts tomorrow.
Happy Giving Up,