I was reading a blog on a diet and exercise website this morning and the writer was trying to decide on a way to get her diet under control. She thought a good approach might be to give up alcohol for Lent but then decided that she liked beer too much and might need one following an upcoming 5K run. That set the wheels spinning in my head thinking about some of the things people give up for Lent.
My wife’s boss once said that he was going to give up cussing for lent. “You can’t do that” she said. “The hell I can’t!” he rebuffed. Quite often people give up things they don’t want or like. A youngster might say “I’m giving up broccoli for Lent.” Easy to do when the child doesn’t eat broccoli anyway.
Of course, the way my head works, being a bit of a wordsmith, I started playing with the words. I was going to respond to the blog with this line of thought: “I think I’m going to give up lint for lent… you know that fuzzy stuff that collects on your wool jacket or in your belly button….hmmm or maybe I should give up Lindt® for Lent…. you know that luscious dark chocolate covered caramel that causes fat to collect on your waistline. I just don’t know, it’s a tough decision.”
But really, why do we give things up for Lent? What’s that all about? Traditionally, many Christians give up things for Lent as a way of honoring Christ’s voluntary self-deprivation during His forty days in the wilderness. Our self –deprivation has a theological basis in that when we think of that which we have given up it helps us to focus on Christ and His sacrifice. And, while our sacrifice pales in comparison to His, it still serves as a reminder to us of God’s love through the sacrifice of His Son.
I don’t know what I will be giving up for Lent this year. It is not required in my worship tradition but I still like the practice and will participate. I might not even be successful for the full forty days but I will make an attempt. All I know is that the benefit to me will certainly outweigh the small sacrifice I will be making, a benefit to me both for my physical health as well as my spiritual health.