As I write this, it’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Facebook is full of posts by people either saying what they’re giving up for the next forty-plus days or asking about what everyone is giving up. More often than not, people are giving up something that they consider a bad habit, like dessert or chocolate or Facebook itself. And that sort of thing irks me.
Lent isn’t about fixing your bad habits. It isn’t about avoiding something you know you shouldn’t eat. It’s supposed to be about your personal relationship with God (or whatever you want to call your Higher Power). Catholics are only supposed to ‘give up’ something IF it gets between themselves and God, or if they replace it with something that will bring them closer. For instance, you should only give up TV if you spend the freed-up time praying, or reflecting, or even spending more time interacting with another human being to show that you love them.
The people that boast about what they’re ‘giving up’ irk me the most. Great, good for you that you’re giving up desserts, eating healthier is a good thing. But do it on your OWN time, not Lent; this time is for you and God to get to know each other a little better. Maybe you could replace dessert time with a prayer or meditation. Maybe you could go for a walk with your significant other, minus electronics of course. Learn tai chi, read something by C. S. Lewis, anything like that.
So what am I doing this Lent, you ask? First, see above for my feelings on boasters. Second, I will tell you I’m not giving up anything; you can observe Lent just as well by trying to add something to your routine. Something that gets you closer to understanding your place in this world that, thank goodness, the Big Guy Upstairs set up just for us. Whatever you do, just keep the right thought in mind.