An Early Lent

Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday; the beginning of Lent.  Every year for Lent, I give up something ("make a sacrifice") and then on Easter Sunday indulge in whatever it is I have given up.  If you've been following my blog over the past few years, you may remember that the something I give up is chocolate.  I am a serious chocoholic and those weeks where I don't allow myself any are tough.  (Really!)  I am completely serious when I say that during the Lenten period I will dream of chocolate.  Something that doesn't happen during the rest of the year.

This year I wanted to go for a little more; I want to give up chocolate AND all alcoholic beverages.  (Am I out of my mind????)  I like a glass of wine (or two) on the weekends.  Or if I'm having Mexican, I'll often wash it down with a margarita.  (On the rocks please.)  I'm not a beer drinker, but Not Your Father's Root beer has been a game changer for me.  But it's only 47 days...certainly I can do that!

I KNOW I can do that.  I also know that it won't be easy...But then part of the "challenge" of Lent is that it SHOULDN'T be easy.  

However, I realized that that very first weekend of Lent, my husband and I are attending an annual convention.  A convention where we are pretty much stuck in a hotel "working" from morning till late night as well as  spending time with lots of good friends.  (Most of whom we only see during this one weekend a year.) All good eating habits go out the window that weekend. To top it off, last year a group of us decided we would have brunch party on Sunday; one that my husband and I decided to "host" (with the help of all our friends who would contribute to the "party").  My Lent plans were looking harder to keep.

What's a girl to do? 

I suppose I could give up the whole giving up thing, but I've been doing it for at least 20 years now and it has become a very special tradition and time of reflection for me.  I look forward to the challenge (and yes it IS a challenge).  I eagerly eat that first chocolate on Easter morning and it means something to me.  I don't want to just forgo my plans of also giving up adult beverages.  I see this as a serious commitment, which means I go for the whole period of time from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday with no "breaks".  (I admit there were times when I counted down until midnight so that I could pop that first chocolate.)

I actually mentioned this to my Pastor briefly, who said that it being a social situation, I might want to consider giving myself a pass.  (She said it much more eloquently than that: "The practice of giving up something for Lent  is best if it is something that supports your faith and faithfulness. So, if, for the sake of hospitality or charity or relationship, the fast should be set aside for a time, dedicate the weekend to God in some other way or do as you propose, extend the fast backwards.,")

Inspired by her words, I thought I COULD give myself a pass IF I still "sacrificed" for 47 days.  Or maybe even more?  (To atone for those days when I "cheated?")  What if I had an "early" Lent?  What if I started giving up a week BEFORE Ash Wednesday?  

So here is my "early Lent" plan.  Starting today, Wednesday, February 22nd, I'm starting my annual "giving up;” no chocolate, no alcohol.  I GIVE myself permission to indulge on Mardi Gras (February 28) as well as on the first weekend of Lent (Friday, March 3 - Sunday March 5th) should I want to.  And then it's back to giving up. 

I don't know if I will "break" my Lent on not on any of those days, but I'm giving myself a pass if I want to indulge on those days.

Finally, since Lent is not only about giving up to me, but also about giving OF (  This year I have also decided to give words of thanks and this will be reflected in upcoming posts.  There are so many people who have given to me and touched me over the years, Lent feels like the right time to let those "unsung heroes" know just how much they have meant to me.

This year my plan is to have a meaningful Lent.  One where I will give up and give freely. Who knows where it will lead...


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