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Sacrificing a little
I have always been conscious of the season Lent. I grew up in a home where both parents were Catholic and took relegion very seriously. Lent is a time for giving up, for reflection and for making things right. For me it will always simply mean - Change a lot, Give more and Love some more. It represents the single time during the year where I can consciously say to myself, I'm going to try to be a better person. I am going to count my blessings and give up something which I can almost literally not live without in support of the many suffering people all over the world.
My eight year old, bless his little cotton socks came up with a tall list of things he is aspiring to do during Lent. His dos and don'ts ranged from giving up sweets, to not making Mummy talk to much, to going straight to the bathroom to have a wash when asked. It's nice to know that at his age, he appreciates the importance of Lent in his own small way; giving up things he loves and trying to change for the better.
Giving up things we love, giving more and trying to be a better person during Lent represents a discipline and a state of the mind. We always think and ask ourselves prior to Lent what we want to give up. We ask what we want to achieve during this period and where we want to be mentally, spiritually and physically when this period comes to an end? Ultimately it boils down to "what do we want to give up for Lent?"
Its almost like a new year resolution. People see the new year as a 'new beginning', a way to make a fresh start. Funnily enough I have never been one to succumb to the culture of making a 'new year resolution' for the simple reason that I did not want to fall into the category of New Year Resulants, who only fall by the way side a month or so down the line.
Of course Lent started on the 9th of March. Prior to that there was the whole buzz surrounding "Pancake day or Mardi Gras", which is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent which last for 40 days before Easter.
It's interesting to note the different things that people give up during Lent. At my workplace people have given up foods such as chocolate, crisps, anything made from flour and vices such as alcohol and smoking. I have known friends who have given up sex for Lent.
A lot of us try to give something up every Lent. This year I decided to give up soft drinks and fruit juices or flavoured water of any kind. I very rarely drink alcohol if any, so to give that up would have been pointless. I absolutely hate water which I am having to drink now apart from tea and coffee to stay hydrated. I managed alright in my first week of Lent, however I'm beginning to struggle now that we are half way through the season.
It's amazing to note how we easily get tempted when we make a decision to give somthing up for good reasons. My abstinance is increasing my appreciation of all drinks not water. Last night while pouring apple juice for my little one, my nostrils flared as I inhaled the sweet smell of the fruity drink. My lips suddenly felt dry and my throat became very parched. All I could think of was how refreshingly good a cold glass of apple juice will taste as I willed myself not to take a sip and break my fast. My flesh however was as strong and willing as my spirit was and I am glad I did not succumb.
Will power and determination. That's what it takes. It can be from giving up little things as sugar, to big things as smoking (which is not easy when you are an addict). During this season of Lent, I am learning that with a little will power there is no mountain too high to climb, no burden too heavy to carry, or a day too foggy to see through, if we show determination in sticking to our guns. There is also always that added bonus if we learn to take it to the Lord in prayer.
More about Lent
- Lent - Christian Aid
Join us for Lent 2011 and follow our Count Your Blessings journey.
- BBC - Religions - Christianity: Lent
Lent is the period of forty days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar, traditionally a time of fasting and reflection. It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday and begins with Ash Wednesday.