February 16, 2010

A Time to Give Up? Or, Add?

"Who can tell me what Lent is?" I asked my class of public elementary school children a few years ago.

"I can!" said Gina. "It's the stuff that comes out of your belly button!"

The class laughed, I laughed, and then I corrected her.

But, now that I think about it, in a way that's exactly what Lent is. It's a navel gazing time when we examine ourselves for dirt, for clutter, that doesn't belong where it is.

I've given up all my favorite foods before, the ones that just happen to start with "c": candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, Coke, chocolate.

I've given up shopping before, everything that wasn't a necessity. No books, no perfume, no indulgence whatsoever.

And then, there was the lesson I heard a few years ago on giving up guilt. Discouragement. Pride. Fear, anxiety, blame, unforgiveness. Whatever it is that's a burden in your heart.

As Lent begins tomorrow, it's interesting to consider what we'll do. There's always the option of doing nothing. But, even if you don't believe in Christ, it's an interesting exercise in discipline. To see what unnecessary thing we can rid ourselves of for the next 40 days. Or, hopefully, forever.

30 comments:

  1. Great post, Bellezza! I think I would choose to cut out "waste" since I seem to be on a kick where I desperately want to streamline. Stop wasting money, stop wasting food, stop wasting gas. I (and so many others) love to waste, so it would definitely help make me "lighter" and more self-aware.

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  2. Great post! Lent is important to me and I normally do something additional, like spend more time reading my Bible, but this year I am giving up gossiping...my guiltiest vice. I will see how I go...I may introduce a financial penalty to help me stick to it!

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  3. What a nice, thoughtful post. Thanks!

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  4. A great post. You give one lots to think about.

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  5. Lovely :)

    I like your title, Bellezza because it got me thinking. Instead of "doing nothing", we can also choose to do something instead: add a little good to our list of deeds. Reminds me of the account when people criticized Christ for helping a blind man see again on the day of the Sabbath. He could of course have done nothing, just as the other Jews. But he preferred to do good.

    Thanks for the inspiring post Bellezza :)

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  6. This is always a big discussion in our home. I'm on a diet, so I feel like I've already given up everything that makes me happy (ha!). I've decided "no more foul language". I have that bad habit. I figure this is a religious journey right? Can't have a foul-mouthed running around trying to be holy.

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  7. Thank you Bellezza. I am not religious, but I need this.

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  8. It's an interesting way to put it, Bellezza. I'm not religious either, but I'll be moving countries in the next couple of months, and I'm making lists of things I simply have to bring along with me (The Necessities), the things I want to bring with me (The Accessories), and the things I'm just going to have to learn to live without (The Staying Puts).

    But I like the idea of adding. Adding the number of times we smile at strangers every day. Adding the times we hug our loved ones. Adding ways to give joy to others.

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  9. Wonderful post, Bellezza. I'm already pondering my annual 'give up' - soda pop (mainly Coke since that's what I drink to excess). It's difficult for me to do because I do truly like the stuff. But, that's the whole point, isn't it? Without a challenge, what's the point?

    I've been successful probably for the last five years. Now, I have a goal for after - to not start drinking it again.

    It's going to be interesting.

    May you have a reflective, peaceful season.

    cjh

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  10. I'm with you, Andi. It's so easy to just throw something awa, or take it for granted. I love your idea of being more self-aware, more purposeful in our daily lives.

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  11. Bookssnob, it's good you aren't around a teacher's lounge. That is a den for conspiring if I ever heard one. This year at our school is better than most, but I really dislike the feeling that teachers are speaking ill of other staff or students. I have to guard my tongue, too.

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  12. Mark David, I meant to include doing good in my post, and I completely left it out! But, you're right; Lent doesn't have to be a time of sacrifice only, it can also be a time of giving more, doing more, adding something significant to one's day (like more Quiet time or a random act of kindness for someone else).

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  13. You're so welcome, Gnoe.

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  14. It's a good thing we're on a journey, Sandy. I have so far to go before I 'get there'. Diets, clean language, it's all a bit of a challenge. How about flipping off the person behind me who was honking for me to go faster in a snowstorm? :)

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  15. I love the things you've thought of adding!

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  16. Drinking Coke has always been a weakness for me, too, CJ. I love it more than wine! I find it's easier to have none than some, but really, none of the sacrifing we do is really easy. Blessings on you, too.

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  17. Funny, the rituals we hang onto. I cannot remember the last non-holiday church service I attended, but I always give up something for Lent: coffee and chocolate. Often, it's my family who suffers more...

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  18. That is beautiful. I am not a catholic and we don't celebrate Lent but God always makes us see at some point that we need some cleaning up.

    Thank you for inspiring us Bellezza though I can't prevent myself from touching those letter C's (except for candy and coke)! I don't think they're that bad.

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  19. "And then, there was the lesson I heard a few years ago on giving up guilt. Discouragement. Pride. Fear, anxiety, blame, unforgiveness. Whatever it is that’s a burden in your heart."

    My favorite paragraph. May we all be lighter, less burdened.

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  20. Well the title is good enough to suggest the things unspoken :)

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  21. I like how you categorized these things. Very organized thinker :)

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  22. They're not bad in themselves, only in the hold they have on me!

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  23. For me, it's important to sacrifice during this time. For Him, but also for discipline within myself. I've never given up coffee before, though. Wonder if I could...

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  24. Just last night I decided what I'm going to do differently this Lent. I've 'given up' various things over the years, with greater or lesser degrees of success. I've tried 'being a better person,' again with variable results. :<) I think I need something specific. Something that makes me think about what I'm doing. A clear 'sacrifice.' And you know what it is - potatoes. That might sound so silly but the lowly potato is far and away my favorite food. I don't drink soda. I can take or leave ice cream or desserts. So giving any of them up wouldn't really be important. But not eating potatoes for Lent would really make me think about the true meaning of this season. I'll try to be a better person too, but that might just come from giving up what I love eating the most.

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  25. Nan, we all have something that constitutes a true sacrifice for us, and your comment about giving up potatoes made me smile because that's exactly our pastor's weakness; well, french fries to be exact, but it still 'hurts' to give up what we love. Which is a good thing from time to time.

    It's hard to know what we should give up...I've often pondered the idea of reading anything but the Bible during Lent, because I read my Bible almost every day, but I would sorely miss my literature!

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  26. I love the challenge of Lent- trying to be a better person in 40 days. Or something. Finding some little part of myself to improve or work on or think about. It's a worthwhile endeavor. :-)

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  27. Over the years, I've given up chocolate, ice-cream, fizzy drinks, crisps, etc. I really should contemplate giving up book-buying for about two months though...

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

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  28. This year I decided to give up taking cabs. Living in the city with no car my transport options are bus, subway, walking or cabs. And I opt for cabs just too often. Many times public transport would actually be quicker if I just had the patience to just get to the stop and wait. Taking cabs wastes money, decreases my walking time and is not as good for the environment as public transport. So . . . no cabs for me for 40 days.

    Great post!

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  29. As soon as I read this line, "And you know what it is – potatoes." I knew this comment was from Nan! Even without seeing her name at the end. I've know Nan for so many years and I know how much she loves potatoes. Good luck, my dear friend! :)

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