Ash Wednesday rolls around once more. I’m sure it’s quicker each year!
Each Lent I try and be a bit creative about giving something up. Without intending to be pompous, I think that self-denial is an important discipline, and Lent gives us a little opportunity each year to practise. I generally fail miserably in my Lenten disciplines, but usually because I forget I’m not meant to be eating chocolate (or whatever), rather than lack of willpower per se.
This year my wife challenged me to give up “escapism”. Interesting idea, but for me not really specific enough. What would this include, or not include? I suppose an ideal Lent would be giving up something that had a specific intention behind it – so I eat chocolate to make me feel good when I’m down, so I’m giving up that “crutch”. On that grounds it fits, but too hard to work out in practice, I feel.
So instead I’ve decided to give up Science Fiction! I’m a bit of a sci-fi nut, and am always glued to Dr Who etc. It puts Avatar out of the frame, for example (really should have seen it by now anyway).
The other point of giving something up is Bigger Picture stuff. If you deny yourself something you quite like, not only does it strengthen your resolve, but it also reminds you of why you’re doing it every time you don’t have it. So on a less esoteric note, I’m also going to give up milk in tea and coffee. I really like milky coffee, so each time I have a bitter black one, it will remind me that it’s Lent, and all that Jesus gave up when he was around.
The other movement I think is fab is taking something up for Lent. Like smiling to 3 people a day, or talking to a neighbour once a week, or picking up litter everytime you see it. This is a far more positive approach, and in one sense you are giving up some habit or pattern you’d got into.