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Giving Up Is Hard To Do


What are you giving up for Lent?


This inevitable question comes each year from a variety of sources: my children, friends, strangers who see the ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday...all curious to know the sacrifice I am making for 40 days.


For several decades of my life, the answer was always the same: pop and candy.  The struggle was real to make it through six weeks of abstaining from concession stands at basketball games, roller rinks and movie theaters.


When my children were young, I worked toward finding more spiritual endeavors to work towards during the Lenten season. I added daily prayer and attempted to be more patient with my children and spouse.


I have discovered that I prefer the traditional route of giving up something for Lent. I recognize that for me and my competitive spirit, I look at Lent as the opportunity to challenge myself to show the self-control and determination to sacrifice, even if it is only pop and candy.


I am not alone. In a poll held in 2017, candy is the number one item given up for Lent, followed by social media, alcohol, coffee, and soda pop.  


I offered my children some suggestions on what they could give up for Lent.  Several of my brilliant ideas include giving up rolling your eyes at your parents, not answering others with sarcasm and stop fake-cleaning your room, fake-showering and fake-brushing your teeth. Not surprisingly, these were met with even more eye-rolling and sarcasm.


But the time to refocus is upon us. There is a comforting quality to the reflection and spiritual renewal that the Lenten season provides. Each year I observe friends and family members who no longer practice Catholicism or Christianity choose to participate in the religious observance of Lent, along with abstaining from eating meat on Fridays. This spiritual practice has been ingrained in them during formative years and still speaks to them. I pray it leads them back to a greater renewal of faith.


For those of us giving up sweets, a cruel trick of fate puts the beginning of Lent on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day. I see this as only one more layer to test my strength and willpower. I pray that whatever endeavors we undertake during this Lenten season lead us closer to God.  Good luck and stay strong!