You see, when I'm forced to give something up, it makes me crave it for no other reason than because I can't have it. It's around this time that I go to the grocery store just to buy chocolate chip cookie dough and down half the package. Did I mention that I hate feeling deprived?
So a couple of days ago, in the typical "I grew up Lutheran and wore ashes on my forehead to symbolize how bad and dirty I was and then after the Ash Wednesday service was forced to go around the youth group circle and say what I was making myself give up for Lent that year" fashion, I began to contemplate what I needed to rid my life of for the next 40 days. I also contemplated what Hubz needed to give up (hint: it rhymes with Wall of Booty). He didn't appreciate my ideas so much.
I've always known that the idea behind giving things up for Lent was to be able to devote more time to growing with the Lord and removing distractions from your relationship with Him. Sounds good in theory, unless you're me and you don't like being restricted.
Whenever I gave things up for Lent (soda, Facebook, cracking my knuckles--yeah, true story. I did that.), the idea behind it was being able to brag about what I was restricting in my life and how much holier I was because of it. You see, this made me feel less restricted because I got to brag about myself and indulge in my own "holier than thou" alter-ego.
Somehow, I think I was missing the point.
So no, I'm not good at giving things up and feeling restricted.
Maybe someday I'll completely be able to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from my diet,
cut back the amount of money I spend on outfits I only wear once
and resist the delicious taste of a dark chocolate mocha WITH whip cream.
But today is not that day, and tomorrow probably won't be either... and that's ok.
So I've decided that this year for Lent, instead of giving something up, I will add things to my life by praying, exercising and eating well daily. Currently, nothing that I could "give up" would allow me to grow closer to the Lord than that. My relationship with Christ is so much healthier when my relationship with MYSELF (and in turn those around me) is healthier.
So I guess that in a way, coincidentally, I will be giving something up this year. By adding these healthy habits into my life, I will giving up negative self-talk, self-destructive habits and selfishness. This year I'm giving up the old self and embracing the new self that God intends for me and all those who believe. Sounds pretty good to me.
"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."