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Lent – Give It Up, Change Your Life

Posted by terrepruitt on February 23, 2012

Before Nia class on Wednesday, I was talking with one of my students and she was sharing something with me I found to be an interesting idea. She said that her religion does not practice lent so she doesn’t normally participate, but last year she did and it was an amazing experience so this year she decided to do it again. The time frame for lent is generally from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. This is the period of time where practitioners prepare themselves for Easter “through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial”*. In our society it translates to giving something up. Since Jesus spent forty days fasting in the desert a common practice of lent was fasting. Now-a-days it seems as if the focus is on giving up some type of food for lent. My Facebook newsfeed during lent is usually full of post from people suffering through their lack of coffee, fast food, donuts, alcohol, soda, sugar, pizza, bread, cupcakes, gum, meat, candy, etc. Whatever is difficult for them to give up, they give up. For many I think that they really do challenge themselves and often I am amazed, but what my student decided to give up really had me thinking. I could easily live without my favorite food item or beverage for 40+ days, but her lent “items” would require a huge amount of self-control and thought. Last year for lent she gave up self-pity and self-criticism. This year she is giving up the idea of scarcity.

Now on the surface none of these things might sound as if they should be considered true items to give up for lent, but think again. Many people love to live in the pity-pool. In fact people have created pictures, signs, posters, and post-ups about how others are tired of those who are constantly having a pity party. It is easy to look at something that has happened in one’s day and think that the entire day is bad and “Whoa-is me. Now my whole life is bad.” I can see how for some this would be a challenge. I think that for me this would be the easier of the challenge because when I did start to wallow, I could easily recognize it. For me it is easier to spot than self-criticism.

I think the self-criticism is an awesome thing to give up for lent. Some people just do this out of habit or to be polite. We are taught to be modest so when a compliment is given we shoot back with a, “Oh normally, I can’t . . . . ” “Oh usually, my hair is a mess.” . . . or whatever and we criticize ourselves. I believe it is true that many of us are our harshest critics, so imagine if you couldn’t do it for 40+ days. While this certainly does not fit into the fasting category, I don’t see why it would not be an acceptable thing to give up for lent. I would think that God of all beings would want us to stop with the criticizing of ourselves and to get on with the loving.

Then this year’s, the scarcity. I might not have her idea completely right. We talked about it a bit, but not that long, because this all happened in the few minutes before class. I am going to recap as best I can but also add a little and probably go off away from her original idea a bit, but I think it is best to form it in a way that would best fit into your lent. The original thing she said to me was to give up the idea of scarcity, meaning to stop thinking that there isn’t enough. Usually there is enough we just tend to think there isn’t, so if we give up thinking there is not we can actually relax and see that there is. For her on that very morning, she woke up and thought there wasn’t enough time to attend the Nia class. But then she stopped and allowed her self to “be” and her heart told her that it wanted to dance and that there IS, there would be enough time to go to class and then get things done. So she came to class.

She had also mentioned how some people truly do not have enough. Enough whatever; enough food, enough water, enough heat, enough shelter, enough love, enough etc. So, being blessed with all of that she wanted to practice recognizing that it all is enough. As I type this it occurred to me that with that in mind, with practicing recognition, one could also possibly allow things to flourish on their own. Amazing. I like the idea of giving up something besides food. But even so, with either giving up a favorite food or giving up one of these other things mentioned it could lead to a lifestyle change. Maybe once someone lives without soda for 40+ days they won’t go back. Maybe once the pity party is unattended they’ll see it really isn’t that great of a party after all. Maybe there will be more self compliments. And I believe that there will be enough if we acknowledge there is enough.

What do you think? Are you a lent practitioner? What do you give up?

*quote from Wiki

6 Responses to “Lent – Give It Up, Change Your Life”

  1. niachick said

    I don’t participate in Lent but I do give up things that no longer serve me — EVERY day. Personally speaking, I would like to think that this is the way it should always be. Why reserve giving up things that no longer serve me during just one period of the year?


    • 🙂 Well, there is supposed to be more to lent than just giving up stuff . . . I believe the original purpose is deeper and more vast than that.

      What you say sounds great. I guess the time frame is just like New Year’s Resolutions. It is just a good place to start for some.

      Thanks for commenting.


  2. Mike said

    I do not observe Lent however on a regular basis I enjoy doing without if only to make me more humble towards those that truly do not have. It might sound odd but sometimes I give up being warm in the colder months because of so many people that ARE cold and have no way to get warm. Sometimes I eat very little until I am very hungry just so I am reminded of what it must be like to go to sleep feeling that hunger all the time. My dad always used to say that a little suffering was good for the soul. Any time I was tired, worn out, sore, sleepy, hungry – he would always nudge me with that thought. To this day I carry that attitude. I am blessed in more ways than I can count and it is my personal way of “giving up” – as a tribute to the very many who have so very little.


  3. Michele said

    I like the ideas here…hmmm always something good to think about or eat on your lovely blog!! Miss you! A lot!


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