Home and Deranged
This year for Lent, I'm giving up
Around this time each year I struggle to come up with something to shun for Lent.
Giving up sweets, soda, or carbsseems less an attempt to empathize with Christ’s suffering than a conveniently timed diet — Easter season is also bikini season — made less annoying and self-centered when shrouded in religious motivation. Being a natural skeptic, I think many of my acquaintances’ Lenten sacrifices have more to do with the resurrection of their pre-winter silhouette than of their Lord and Savior.
I asked around this year hoping for some guidance and heard the usual vices (mostly edible). But technology has also spiked as a potential exile, with many friends vowing to lay off the texting, deactivate Facebook or quit logging onto Gchat at the office.
Some people are adopting their own interpretations of celibacy. One girlfriend is giving up sex and cursing (not in conjunction with one another, but as independent entities — I clarified) and the guys’ go-to sacrifice seems to be pornography, although I know one who has pledged to stop masturbating in the common area he shares with his two roommates (how gallant).
So the question is, do I give up a vice (pornography, cursing) or do I give up something I love (Facebook)? I pondered and decided at least on the vague category of “Things I love” — maybe missing something would keep me focused on the spirit of the whole exercise. I made the list — in hardcopy in purple ink — and realized upon review that “Things I Love” could have easily been titled, “Vices.” For me, the two appear to be in total overlap.
So I’ve abandoned giving something up entirely. It’s not a cop out; I’ve come up with an alternative: Instead of cutting something out of our lives, maybe we should add something. This year, we could focus on being better, instead of just looking better.
I know Lent has already started, but here are some ideas (because what’s the ultimate Christian message, if not, “it’s never too late!"):
Leave the chain stores and restaurants to fend for themselves. Hit your farmer’s market instead of the supermarket, and support the local little guy. Maybe volunteer your time one day a week to a cause you believe in, or take the money you spend eating lunch out and donate it to a food bank. Pay someone a compliment every day, or dial up a relative you don’t speak to enough. The possibilities are endless.
I’m definitely opting to "add" this year instead of "subtract." If I’d had to give something up, it would have been Whataburger. And that I couldn’t take.