Givin’ it up
This year for Lent, I gave up French fries. I know Iâ€™ve railed in the past against people who use Lent as some sort of New Yearâ€™s Resolution Continuance, and itâ€™s always been especially puzzling to me in people who donâ€™t profess the Christian faith. Why not just let yourself off the hook if itâ€™s not something you believe in? Why, you can ignore it, just leave the resolution you made back in the fallow dust of the February that was its downfall, look merrily forward eating dessert or buying lottery tickets or drinking fancy $10 martinis or whatever it was you gave up in the first place.
But no, every year people pick up the banner of â€śno chocolate until Easter,â€ť which always made a strange kind of sense to me, because for people of all faiths (or no faith at all), Easter means the sudden availability of a whack-ton of chocolate treats. So itâ€™s no chocolate, or no beer, or whatever thing has been singled out as the evil that must be purged.
When I left my faith behind, I sure as heck left Lenten sacrifice behind as well. When I returned, tentatively and new-mindedly, to my faith as an adult, I felt like Lent called more for serious reflection than it called for dieting. I would take up something instead, like daily prayer or reading scriptures or meditation. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with that at all, except I was crappy at sticking with it beyond Lent.
Given all this history, it might seem odd for me to give up French fries this year. But maybe for once, Iâ€™m realizing what the point of Lenten sacrifice is. I donâ€™t often think about French fries, which is foolish because I certainly eat them enough. Theyâ€™re the default side-dish even in many nicer restaurants, they are ubiquitous and salty and tasty as hell. So I consume them without thought. Theyâ€™re empty carbohydrates, bad for me as a diabetic, not to mention their deep-fat-fried evil properties. And it is a thoughtless way to treat myself. When we take in all that is around us, when we donâ€™t discriminate, when we donâ€™t think of what we consume (not just food, but anything we take into our bodies and minds), we do ourselves a disservice. Maybe we each have a crutch, a weakness, a thing we could easily do without were it not for our thoughtless and self-serving desire just to HAVE it. Just wanting something doesnâ€™t make it the best choice for ourselves. Thinking conscientiously about the way I treat myself has bearing on my faith. But it is not a bad idea for anyone, regardless of faith.
If youâ€™ve given up something for Lent, for whatever reason, I hope that it has given you insight you didnâ€™t have before. I hope itâ€™s at least given whateverÂ you were seeking, whether it was a glimpse of enlightenment or a few less pounds. Does this newfound embrace of Lenten sacrifice mean you wonâ€™t see me happily scarfing down a few fries fairly soon after April 24? Heck no. But I hope it has given me an increased ability to make more conscientious and thoughtful decisions for myself, in more ways than one.