Each year Lent always seems to creep up on me. I know that sounds a bit crazy as it’s in between February and April and ALWAYS encompasses my birthday. Which is why each year I don’t do it. Last year lent seemed to surprise me and I just didn’t feel ready to really think about giving anything up. This year I resolved that I would do something and couldn’t decide what it would be.
After toying with the idea for a while I decided (the day after lent had started) that I’d give up chocolate. Not a big(ish) deal I thought – I certainly didn’t need chocolate every day of the week I mean, how hard could it be?
Now if this was a movie there would be huge alarm bells going off or if it was a novel there would be a witty paragraph to follow. Instead it was just me, feeling virtuous………..
Very shortly after I read something in my church newsletter that offered a different perspective on lent….. it suggested that instead of giving up and denying ourselves, we should be giving thanks. Not gorging, not feeling naughty that we shouldn’t be eating what we’re eating, just eating sensibly, rationally and giving thanks that we didn’t have to struggle like Jesus did to have the lives that we have.
However, I decided that I’d be far more virtuous than that (and a better christian to boot) I WOULD deny myself and I would be a better, calmer, more rational person for it.
A week ago I started counting down the days.
I was bummed to find out there were still 26 to go.
Last Friday after a LOT to drink and still in a bar and hungry I succumbed to the birthday brownies my friend’s girlfriend made. Never mind I told myself, I can start again. Yes I gave in to temptation but it doesn’t mean I have to stick with what’s tempting me. I can rationally start again.
4 days later I’m tucking into a mini bag of mini eggs (not even falling off the wagon properly!) and accepting that I’m just not good enough at this lent thing. Maybe I was aiming too high. Maybe I should have just given thanks all the time and carried on life as normal?
So what could I do to make the most of this experience? (all 20 days of it) I think the main thing is admitting that after 2 and a half years I’m still really new to following my faith and that a lot of Christianity is still a mystery to me. It’s taught me that (often) Christians are a lot tougher, stronger and more impressive than I think and give them credit for. It’s given me a stronger respect for my religion and the followers of it and I may have failed lent but from now on I’ll always be giving thanks not only for the lovely things (like chocolate and wine – good job I didn’t try to kid myself and give up wine!) but for the lovely, stronger than me people who do set themselves challenges and complete them.