Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Day 297 - Giving up Something for Lent

I have never given up anything for lent. As someone that has never had a strong religious affiliation, giving up something for lent has never been a part of my life. Since I was a child, religion was little more than a passing obligation in my family that would come and pass with changes in my parents’ perspectives. We were never strongly bound to any specific form of Christian faith, which meant lent was little more than an excuse to get out and enjoy some of Wisconsin’s traditional fish frys during the weeks when winter began its inevitable transition to spring. Basically, I didn’t grow up in an environment where anyone gave up anything for lent, and in my adult years my general aversion toward organized religion meant I wasn’t about to start.

It wasn’t until my “I have never...” year that I began kicking around the idea of giving up something for lent. After experiencing all the major faiths of the world in some capacity earlier in the year, I started thinking the act of giving up something for lent might help me better understand an aspect of my most familiar form of faith, Christianity, as I moved toward the end of my “I have never...” year. Additionally, the test of resolve required to give up something cherished for 40 days presented a good challenge I thought would be worth taking on as a highlight in my year of new experiences. In turn, I decided I would give up something for lent for the first time in my life as a part of my “I have never...” year. My intentions weren’t necessarily rooted in faith, but I was going to give the practice a try to see if I could make it.

That decision led me to today, and it had me facing the very real prospect of giving up something that was a routine part of my life for the sake of sacrifice. After putting some thought into how I could follow through with my plans, I decided I needed to give up something that would have a real impact on my life if I was to learn and grow from the experience, which led me to list off the things I routinely rely on in my everyday life. After sorting through some things that were more necessity than anything else, I began to hone in on a few items that weren’t essential to my life but had become items I had relied on as a result of habit. That process led me to one very big crutch in life that I had come to define as critical to getting me through each day, caffeine.

Goodbye, Caffeine... Why am I doing this?!

Although that last thing I wanted to do was cut the caffeine-containing foods and drinks I loved out of my life, I knew giving up caffeine would pose a significant challenge for me and would likely help me better understand the idea of sacrifice behind lent. So, that’s exactly what I did starting today. For the next 40 days I am going to give up caffeine completely as my first experience giving up something for lent. While I’m sure the decision will result in a few headaches early in the process and will likely have me missing some of my favorite things, I know there is a lot to be gained from giving this lent thing a try.

As a result, for the next 40 days I will forego soda, chocolate, ice cream, coffee, and other sources of caffeine out of my life. Without question, it will be tough, and I will undoubtedly be more than a little tired from one day to the next, but this is a challenge I want to undertake. It’s one that I know will help me better understand how far I have come over the course of the past ten months, and it will help me better understand what I am capable of doing for the sake of an idea. I’m giving up something for lent, and when I say that, I have no intention of giving up on that commitment. 

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