Why I'm not giving anything up for Lent

Most years I talk about what to give up for Lent longer than the 40 day’s you’re supposed to actually do it. It’s nice to roll from broken New Years resolutions right into another restrictive period, so I can practice self-control for another 40 days, although I may throw a few binge days in like Tim Ferriss recommends in The 4 Hour Body (Hey, my fasting period, my rules). I like to call it Lent Light.

One year I was in Deprivation limbo for (gasp) 3 days after Ash Wednesday, fretting over just the right amount of agony I was in the mood for, while still being mindful of my scheduled vacation. When suddenly, standing over some sinfully good-looking bacon in the brunch buffet line, I decided to become a vegetarian. A 40 day vegetarian. It was a fabulous choice, drawing oohs and ahhs as I wagged my righteous tail. It felt so good belonging to the elitist club of disciplinarians, that I maintained it for two years (Brought down by a White Castle burger, but that’s another story). Update: I eliminated meat from my diet about 18 months ago for health reasons, so the meat thrill is gone.

Then there was the year I gave up sugar and lost 7 lbs. You know, that’s what Lent is all about, right? Discipline and weight loss. It’s a great conversation starter, “Hi, I’m Lisa and I like cookies. But during Lent I’m cookie free for Jesus’ sake, Amen.”

So this year I am giving up giving up anything. I have no Lenten agenda attached to a personal sacrifice. I will eat pizza, have a cookie, drink a glass of wine if I choose, just like the other 325 days of the year. I will continue to be mindful of my body and what I put in it, but I will do it void of the pomp and circumstance I’ve created in past years. My offerings were cheap and aligned with a selfish agenda, so it seems like a no-brainer to me. Just give it up.

Truth is, I really don’t know how to do Lent. I know what I’ve done in the past has not been spiritually driven. I spent far too much time thinking about what I should've give up, as though the perfect sacrifice was on the tip of my tongue. It's exhausting for all the wrong reasons. So I’m going to quietly enter the season and hand the burden of sacrifice to Someone who does it better than me. In Jesus' name, Amen.