My religious community has never really practiced Lent. In fact, when I was growing up, I watched my Catholic friends with a bit of awe as they gave up things like gum, soda, TV, video games (PONG! Pacman!) and the like. It’s something I never quite understood.
But a few years ago, I was reading Guidepost magazine, and came across an article about a woman who decided to give up Peanut M & M’s for Lent. Having never thought about it before, it was like a smack in the face because I love. Love. LOVE Peanut M & M’s. I pretty much always have them in the house. (A while ago when my husband was doing the South Beach diet and we were really paying attention the glycemic index, I saw that all things considered, Peanut M & M’s were fairly low on the index for a chocolate-y candy. Although I was partial to them before, I’ve been über loyal to them ever since.)
But back to business: I saw that I, too, had a weakness, a physical temptation, if you will, for Peanut M & M’s. They were a habit I relied on far too much. And I thought about participating in Lent the following year by giving them up.
Except… I didn’t.
But it was always in the back of my mind. I thought it was something I should do.
And then this year, I felt strongly that I should give up something for Lent. Peanut M & M’s definitely came to mind, but after consideration, there were just so many things I relied on too much. Too many habits. Too many weaknesses.
The more I thought about it, not only was I tempted by physical things, I gave too much credence to silly things. Things like reading too many news websites on the internet first thing in the morning. I spend too much time on Facebook. I watch movies that I’ve already seen 13 times. I read fluff instead of reading meat. I download apps for my phone that I say will make my life easier, but in reality they just take more of my time away… It’s time away from devoting my full attention to the people that mean the most in my life – my husband and children. My friends too. And to a large degree, things that take time away from me, even. But really, it’s not about taking away from my husband, my kids, my to-do list, my friends, or myself. It’s about these things taking my focus off of living a more Christ-like life.
That’s just the time-wasters though. What about eating too many sweets? What about chocolate? Ice cream after dinner? Nachos? A handful of chips instead of an apple? Pizza? Again, too many fillers and not enough sustenance.
Fillers and not enough sustenance. That pretty much sums up what Lent is all about in my mind. In trying to satisfy an emptiness in my body, my soul, I adopt the wrong things. Instead of filling myself with Him, I fill myself with all manner of… nothings.
And it literally takes taking something I (mistakenly) depend on out of my life, to show me what I should absolutely be connected and committed to.
The thing is… Lent is only 40 days out of 365. What about those other 325? Only 40 days of my year that I see just how incredibly weak I am… Only 40 days out of my year that I know how utterly foolish I’ve been in making other things my god instead of the one true God…
I can hardly believe Lent is just once a year.
I need to celebrate Lent every day.
Because that’s how often I need to be reminded of what really matters.