Let’s be clear. I am not Catholic. I am not even a recovering Catholic. I was raised as a Baptist and am currently still a member in Methodist church congregation seven states away from my house because I’ve yet to find another one I like.* But you don’t have to be catholic to observe lent; even my catholic friends and family will give you that one. Indeed, some of the other rituals and beliefs in Catholicism are not for me. They confuse me.
But Lent? Lent, I get.
Lent observances are meant to help us turn away from whatever has distracted or derailed us and to turn back to God. Giving up something for Lent is ultimately a form of fasting. We can deprive ourselves of some small pleasure or indulgence and offer that sacrifice up to God.**
OK. I get that.
But let’s face it. Most people suck at the Lent selection.The link below is a Twitter Lent Tracker, which list the top 100 most common things people “give up” for Lent. I struggle with this. Because I really believe that G-d doesn’t care if I give up chocolate. (My ass might, but G-d certainly doesn’t.)
For many people I know, it’s about two birds, one stone. They wanted to diet anyway, so they are going to give up carbs for Lent. You’d be better to choose Candy Crush. Can you live without THAT sugar?
Stop inviting me. You know who you are.
Unless you give up something that you will actually MISS in your every day life, it ultimately has no value. And worse, when you FAIL at your attempts, because you have set yourself up to do so, you are giving Christians a bad name, insinuating hypocrisy on a much larger scale, that Christians are generally lazy and fickle, not serious about our practices. (No more so that other religions, I venture, but other faiths don’t adhere to Lenten practices.) Additionally, we don’t need that bad rap.
There are enough ignorant people out there calling themselves Christians already thank you very much.
At Lent, the aim is to get closer to your God. Christians of all shapes and sizes give something up in order to focus on something OTHER, ostensibly the more important things in our lives. It’s about priorities. Less overtime means more personal time. Less iPad/iPhone gaming means reconnecting with your spouse, who is sitting 3 feet away. Less trips to the gym mean might more walks with your dog. Why shop when you can read? Less XBOX means time for artistic or creative endeavors that you yourself make (create rather than participate).
I intend to give up my habit of eating dinner in front of the TV. For 40 days.
Yes, for those of you who were unaware. Lent goes until Easter. 40 DAYS.
I will NOT turn on the TV until after dinner. Every night. I am not going entirely without it; that would be madness. And that would be unrealistic. But waiting until after dinner? Cuts at least two hours out of our viewing time. That’s a nice daily chunk of what-else-could-I-be-doing.
I will set the table EVERY night, which also means I have to stop using it as storage space for excess work and project piles. Even on nights when Hubby has commitments, I intend to eat alone with Otter and perhaps a good Pandora station. No email checking. No HULU cheating. Just Honest Down Time.
This is a big deal, since I ADORE my DVR.
I find that I can’t actually watch TV in real time anymore without yelling at the commercials. Especially the drug ones. I often found myself trying to fast forward through them while watching Jeopardy in real time, so now I record that too. As a consequence, we watch MORE shows and enjoy them, but it is our primary evening activity. In part due to the crappy winter weather, and in part due to our winter work schedules, but really? It feels as though if we are home, we are connected to the DVR.
Now, I will slow down. I will NOT eat in my lap.
We have a dining room table damnit. I intend to use it. If these two can do it, SO CAN I. 🙂 Dogs with Table Manners
I am not saying that I am any better at making sacrifices than the next human, but I am going to take Lent seriously or not at all.
When Easter is over, I’ll come back to this and let you know how it went.
In the meantime, share your Lent thoughts?
* And when I say “I”, I do not mean “WE”. I was fortunate to grow up in a wonderful church with an active youth group and fabby friends. Both then -and as an adult- I spent decades joyfully singing in church choirs (some I even had to audition for!) but Hubby did not have these connections in his church when he was young. Church was never joyful or fun for him. And so he doesn’t feel a lack of a church home in his adult life. He & I agree emphatically that you do not need to tithe to a church to be a spiritual person or a Good Christian. So we are very particular in our church-comparison shopping. And we often forgo services for praising G-d’s grace and bounty in nature on a golf course front nine.
** Definition from http://bustedhalo.com/questionbox/why-do-we-give-up-something-for-lent
March 5, 2014 at 6:21 pm
Well V., I will contintue my Lenten observance of no bevs…beers or alcohol. I have done this for the better part of 20 years. You know me, it is a challenge but to one of your points…it also ties in this year with Weight Watchers…woohoo!
March 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm
If you have been doing it for 20 years, and it’s a challenge that works, then it obviously works for you. The point is, you didn’t just “pick” beer this year BECAUSE of Weight Watchers.
I’m not sure G-d cares about Weight Watchers either, but I do think he wants us to be happy and healthy. 🙂
March 5, 2014 at 8:22 pm
A friend shared this with me, and I thought you’d like it! http://gs4nj.org/20-things-to-give-up-for-lent/