Lent means more than giving up meat on Fridays

As a kid I paid little attention to the Bible. God is good. God is great. And if all else fails: Jesus forgives.

So don’t be too surprised when I say that up until recently the Lenten season has been characterized by Fish Stick Fridays and giving up ridiculous things like, “not being mean to my sister.” Right, like that was ever going to happen.

Over the years, my ability to stick to what I say I’m going to give up for Lent has gotten more and more lax. Maybe I gave up eating chocolate and then I gave up eating chocolate except on Sundays.

Eventually I would forget that I even made that promise to myself until Easter finally arrived to jog my memory. Whoops.

Recently I’ve taken to looking at Lent in a new light. Regardless of your religious affiliation, I’ve begun to believe that an exercise in self-restraint is good no matter who or what you worship.

When I was young my mom would say, “Jesus gave up his life so that our sins may be forgiven. You, young lady, can give up sweets for a while.”

But when I was little that really didn’t mean much to me; I barely understood the idea of death, and sacrifices weren’t something I was accustomed to making.

Now that I’m a bit older and – as morbid as it sounds – that much closer to death, I have a better understanding of what my mother was squawking about.

She’s also changed up her tactic. If I admit to my sins of falling off the Lenten wagon, she doesn’t nag, she won’t preach – she just says, “That’s between you and God.”

Wow, Mom. Thanks for letting me know I’m damned to Hell in five words or less.

Still I don’t think that giving up soda or sweets for 40 days is at all equivalent to being crucified so that the sins of humanity could be forgiven. I doubt our common petty sacrifices were what Jesus of Nazareth had in mind. But in all honesty my angle here is less than religious.

My point is that if the image of God’s only son hanging from a cross so that your eternal soul may be spared doesn’t motivate you to make a small sacrifice this Lenten season, then I may have a small suggestion to help you out.

Think about yourself. I know, I know, it’s definitely not the Christian way, but if that wasn’t doing it for you before, try this.  Exercising your self-control can only help you grow as a person.

Think: what’s your biggest vice? Maybe it’s smoking or drinking too much or Starbucks. Whatever it is, it’s time to see what kind of person you are when you cleanse your body of your personal addiction.

It’s not forever; in fact 40 days isn’t even half a semester. And if we don’t have the will power now, when most of us are in our carefree early 20s, how will we take control of our lives when we’re older and have kids and bills to pay?

At just about halfway through Lent, I hope this message offers some insight to make it to Easter with pride intact.

I know I need a little help to keep me away from my vices, and I’m definitely nowhere near perfect. I’ve heard “It’s between you and God,” more than I care to mention.

I, like much of the rest of us 20-somethings, am a Catholic when it’s convenient kind of gal, so if you want to know the true Christian reason for the Lenten season, ask a priest.



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