It’s interesting how your perspective of Lent can change as you grow older.
When I was young, it was a time when I realized I would have to give something up. It was somewhat akin to drudgery. No meat on Fridays, and give up something cherished. When I was a little girl, I used to come home from school and play with my Legos for several hours a day. I think this was somewhat my introverted response to processing what happened during the day and I can see my son does something similar to this now. I remember in an effort at piety, I offered to give up playing with my Legos. My teacher, said Legos weren’t a sacrifice; I should give up dolls. Little did she know me.
Lent, and how we embark on it, is very personal and everyone is called to give up different things, add different things, and tailor their journey to their own spiritual life. My husband and I try to do some things together, both so we grow on this journey together and also it can be logistically easier (if one person is giving up meat, and the other is giving up gluten and dairy, it can be difficult for meal planning).
I had briefly looked into the fasting traditions of the Eastern Rite and I must admit I was a bit in awe of the sacrifice. I think I will try to take some steps toward fasting and abstinence like they do, but without going all the way. I think for me as an individual it could be a slippery slope to pride.
My son, yesterday when we were discussing Lent, said he wanted to do something different (he is only 5). The Lents he remembers, we always give up dessert. He offered to give up TV. As I spoke with him to see if that was really what he wanted to do, he told me “40 days is a week, right? I’ve given TV up for a week before …” While I appreciated that he was willing to sacrifice a little “bigger” than his typical, we discussed that 40 days is a lot more than a week; it’s closer to 6 weeks.
He paused and then said, “I’m giving up dessert again.”
My most successful Lenten journeys though have been when my husband and I have given up TV, devices, or listening to the news on the radio. We embarked on having more nights together talking, reading and listening to Catholic podcasts. There really is something to be said about, “You are what you listen to and watch.” Some of these habits have even continued outside of Lent.
As you embark on your Lenten journey, don’t be afraid to shake it up a bit. It’s easy to fall into, “this is what I give up every year.” Listen to God’s voice and allow his purification in your life. Remember, he also gives us Grace. Don’t give up. Persevere. Remember He is walking with you. It is pleasing to Him that you are trying. He calls us to be faithful, not perfect.
Copyright 2019 Meg Herriot