Wednesday, February 6, 2008

40 Days

"Lent, in most Christian denominations, is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where, according to the Bible, he endured temptation by Satan."

"Many modern Protestants consider the observation of Lent to be a choice, rather than an obligation. They may decide to give up a favorite food or drink (e.g. chocolate, alcohol) or activity (e.g. going to the movies, playing video games) for Lent, or they may instead decide to take on a Lenten discipline such as devotions, volunteering for charity work, and so forth.... "

- Wikipedia article on Lent

For as long as I can remember, every year at the beginning of Lent I make the decision to sacrifice or fast something as an act of worship to God. Every time I haven given something up for the 40 days of Lent, I always try to make it a true sacrifice. For example, last year I gave up peanut butter which is a big deal for me because I LOVE peanut butter. It was very hard for me to refrain but I always brought to the front of my mind why I wasn't eating peanut butter and said a quick prayer thanking God for the gift of salvation through Christ that He has given us.

The act of giving something up for Lent is a voluntary one. Because I don't practice regular fasting for health reasons, I put my fasting effort into these 40 days of sacrifice and try really really hard to not give in to the temptation to fall. I always try to pick something that I know will offer that temptation; if it doesn't offer that kind of a temptation - it isn't really a sacrifice to me.

The other thing that's really cool for me about giving something up for Lent is that my mom - who grew up Irish Catholic - always sacrifices something every year too. This gives us both a built-in support system to keep each other on track and make sure that we're standing by our sacrifice and not giving in to temptation. It also gives us both a means for constant encouragement along the way, and someone to process with once Easter is over.

This year I have decided to give up chocolate again. I gave up chocolate one year while I was in college but my heart and faith were not in it as much as they are now. Chocolate offers a ton of temptation in a lot of different areas, so I think that this is the right choice for me this year for a sacrifice because I know it will be a difficult one. (Side note: after I decided chocolate was definitely going to be the sacrifice, I realized that last night I had a brownie covered in Rocky Road ice cream. Talk about an unintentional personal Mardi Gras).

Another thing that I've noticed about myself is that I don't spend nearly enough time with God through prayer nor do I spend enough time with God's word on a regular basis as I should. I have decided that I am going to take these 40 days of Lent to work to remedy that. I'm going to work to spend time daily praying and reflecting on God's word. My thought is what a better time to revisit and retrain my spiritual habits than the days leading up to Easter and the celebration of the Ressurection.

And so begins my 40-Day journey to strengthen my faith and relationship with Christ. This is the first Lent/Easter I'll be celebrating since my adult Baptism, and so I feel more... drawn to the sacrifice this year. This brief journey should prove to be an interesting one (in a good way).

For more information on Lent:


Kat said...

Thanks for sharing that with us and while I wasn't raised with religious beliefs I still believe in God and I give up something very dear for me during lent each year as well.

This year it will be chocolate.

Mags said...

You did good today. I'm proud of you...even with Linda's teasing! LOL.