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What I’m giving up for Lent. Again.

03/10

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, marking the start of Lent. Although I don’t officially observe Lent, my father and husband were raised Catholic and I was born and baptized one, so I still feel connected to the tradition.

For the past decade or so, I’ve followed the practice of giving up something I love for the 46 days between Ash Wednesday and the day before Easter (I include the Sundays) — with varying degrees of success.

Most of what I gave up in the early years was food-related — chocolate, sugar, pizza, Diet Coke, potato chips.

Finally it dawned on me that the process was more about preparation and self-denial than a do-over for neglected New Year’s resolutions. That was the year I tried to give up saying negative things and having negative thoughts — 46 very difficult, very long days involving frequent repentance and restarts.

Then in 2008 I hit on the perfect thing.

Excuses.

Yup, for 46 days I gave up excuses. And while it might seem like too much of an all-inclusive copout to be tangible, it actually works pretty well for me.

  • If I wake up on a run day but don’t feel like running – I go anyway. No excuses.
  • If I’ve committed to writing three blog posts a week but can’t think of anything noteworthy to write – I post anyway. No excuses.
  • If I owe a client a project, need to prepare a lesson or should reach out to a friend, but would rather procrastinate – I don’t. No excuses.
  • If it’s after 8 PM and I’m craving a bowl of cereal (or ice cream!) – I won’t eat it. No excuses.

True, ‘no excuses’ is a nebulous concept. And yes, it does open the way for cheating, since I could easily deny that I ever really committed to doing — or not doing — something in the first place. But in the end, that’s only cheating myself.

So for me, it works. I’m sacrificing something I love – my time, my cravings, my laziness – to better understand and appreciate the ultimate sacrifice made not just for me, but for everyone who has ever lived.

And that’s why I’m giving up excuses for Lent – again — this year.

You?

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Catherine permalink
    03/10 12:24 PM

    Love this. All encompassing, and as you say, you only cheat yourself if you don’t follow through. I am afraid my Lenten sacrifices are not nearly so ambitious, though for me, they will be a challenge. I have committed to three things.

    1. Leaving my phone in my purse in the backseat of my car so that I am not tempted to answer it when I am driving, or quickly glance at my email at a stoplight, or do what I most fear my children might do – text while driving. The reality is that there is nothing that can’t wait until I put my car in park, but I am guilty of all of the above – even after getting a hefty ticket for talking on the phone and driving. Enough already.

    2. Moving my body for some period of time each day. This will preferably be for a minimum of an hour, but if it is only a walk around the block, so be it.

    3. Giving up my nightly glass of wine while cooking dinner. I know my LDS friends do this as a matter of course, but it is very, very relaxing for me and hard to give up.

    I considered giving up Facebook but knew that giving up 46 days of Lexulous AND wine would push me over the edge. Plus, I need to be able to Facebook stalk my children. :)

    Hope everyone has a joyous Lenten season, beautiful spring and blessed Easter!

    • Jennifer permalink*
      03/10 12:34 PM

      Are you kidding? Those are SUPER ambitious! But still do-able. And I find that doing these things for a higher purpose makes it slightly easier to stay committed to the follow-through.

      Joyous Lenten season to you, as well.

  2. 03/10 12:34 PM

    I think I’d rather give up tight shoes. ;)

    • Jennifer permalink*
      03/10 12:37 PM

      That’s the good news, Marti — no limit to the stuff we can give up. :-)

  3. Dorothy permalink
    03/12 1:26 PM

    Wow. And you wonder why a person could look up to you. I respect your observance. You’ve given me something to ponder.

    • Jennifer permalink*
      03/12 1:37 PM

      I look up to you, too, my friend. We need to actually get together for some pondering … too bad you live so far away. ;-)

  4. 03/16 9:00 PM

    I loved reading this post and I think your “sacrifice” for lent is just perfect. I actually just wrote about what I gave up for Lent this year so it was nice reading about Lent post :)

    Btw- I gave up coffee and all forms of internet shopping as those are the 2 things that have been occupying more than 50% of my life lately! So sad … but so necessary.

    • Jennifer permalink*
      03/19 9:54 AM

      Way to go, Jenn — good luck on both fronts! And thanks for stopping by… (Wish I’d had your baby food recipes back in the day. That’s one lucky babe.)

  5. John McGill permalink
    03/19 9:41 AM

    I’m a little late – Ash Wednesday has come and gone – but I’m attracted to your giving up excuses for Lent. Will report on my experience after Easter Sunday.

    Great blog. Keep up the good work!

    • Jennifer permalink*
      03/19 9:59 AM

      I’d say you’re due a few excuses. (But does this mean *you’re* driving to Sam’s Club today?) :-)
      Thanks so much for inspiring my original Lenten commitments — and for your unwavering support. xo

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