“What Are You Giving Up For Lent?”

“What are you giving up for lent?” a phrase that plagued my catholic high school every Ash Wednesday for four years. Ash Wednesday is a holiday celebrated by Catholics to commemorate the 6 weeks Jesus fasted in the desert before his crucifixion. It’s always 40 days before Easter, and is considered the “lenten season”. Each year, you fast for 40 days, giving up something that is of value to you and replacing it with prayer. Here are some of the things I have given up in previous years and what I have learned in the process:

My freshman year of high school I gave up soda. That was a tough one because although I never was a huge soda-drinker, as soon as you give something up you just want it more. I remember sneaking sips of my dad’s soda when he wasn’t looking or wandering past the coke cans at 7/11. Giving up soda had no significant impact on my life, other than just giving it up to give it up. 

Engin Akyurt via Pexels My sophomore year I gave up makeup. That was a big one, seeing as I usually never went to school without makeup on. It made me feel so naked, but honestly after I did that makeup ‘fast’ I never really went back to wearing makeup like I did prior. When I gave up makeup, I gave up trying to look a certain way to impress others. It really made me think more about my inner beauty and why I even wore makeup in the first place. It also had me reflect back onto why God made me the way that He did, and I discovered my favorite bible verse that year: Psalm 139:14. 

My junior year I gave up meat. That year I also found out I had an awful iron deficiency that caused me to have to get iron infusions. So giving up meat turned out to be a bad thing that I couldn’t go through the whole way with. It was in the effort. 

lattee next to phone and earbuds Photo by Juja Han from Unsplash My senior year I gave up Caffeine. Boy, oh boy, was this the toughest. Like, grumpy 5am swim practices tough. Like, trying to stay up to study for AP Gov but falling asleep on my books tough. If anything, giving up caffeine just showed me how bad my time management and study habits were. And that was the true gift from God, the gift of correction. 

iPhone with Twitter logo Photo by Sara Kurfeb from Unsplash My freshman year of college I gave up social media, like, all of it. The only apps I had on my phone were pinterest, the bible app, and my email. It was crazy to think about doing that one because I learned so much about myself during that time. I would always be reading a book, writing in a journal, reading my bible, or doing some other productive activity. Once Lent was over, I re-downloaded instagram and the first thing I thought was, “Wow, I haven’t missed anything”. It was refreshing to do, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who needs a break. 

My sophomore year of college I gave up smoking weed. I was in a particularly tough time in my life and I turned to smoking weed a lot during my sophomore year, so getting a cleanse from it was exactly what my body needed. I started dreaming again, my natural sleep cycle came back to me, and I didn’t feel so sluggish. I released myself from my reliance on weed in a lot of ways and came back into my body. I also saved a lot of money. 

The key to fasting, as stated in The Bible, is to not let anyone know while you’re doing it. I can’t say what I’m giving up this year, but I am excited to be working on myself for these next 40 days. Happy Lenten!