Giving Up or Giving?
Lent begins today. For many people, myself included, it means giving something up. Not just anything, but something that means something to you. Which is why I don't give up lima beans, but I do give up chocolate. Giving up chocolate might be easy for some, but for me, it IS a challenge. I am a self-admitted chocoholic. I know that sometime within the next 40 days or so, I will have a dream about eating chocolate. Yes, that's how much I love it. When denied, I have chocolate dreams!
I try to be hard core about what I am giving up. I don't give in on Sundays (as I have lately heard that you are "allowed" to) and I am strict when it comes to what I consider chocolate. Even something that is "chocolate flavored" is off my list. And since I am usually assigned to make a dessert for the family Easter meal, I do not make it until Easter day because my dessert HAS to be chocolate.
I've been giving up for Lent for probably 20 years now. For me, no year has gotten easier. The only thing that has changed is that I don't stay up till midnight to proclaim Easter has arrived and get my chocolate fix. At my age sleep has won out, but you can bet that the first thing Easter morning I run to get my eagerly awaited chocolate.
Giving up something is really only important if it means something; if it makes you reflect when you deny yourself something that you want. I probably don't reflect enough and instead focus on, "I can't have it; what can I have." This year I'm going to do my best to avoid that scenario.
Also this year in addition to giving up, I'm going to try GIVING. I know that many of my friends, instead of giving up are focusing on giving to those in need. The children of the church I attend were challenged to do something nice every day for the 40 days of Lent. Doing something nice; giving of yourself should be an easy enough challenge and yet it can make a huge difference. Just giving a smile can change someone's day. (I know it has mine.) Give a smile. Give a wave. Give a compliment. Give a thank you. I challenge myself to do one thing; something, every day until Easter (and hopefully beyond). To consciously give every day no matter how small the giving may be.
This Lent I will be giving up (and reflecting on what it means daily) AND giving to others. Will it make a difference? Hopefully it will to others, but more importantly, I hope it will make a difference to and in me. May I become a kinder and more mindful person this Lent. That's a challenge we could all take, during Lent or any time of year.