This past weekend we attended an all day retreat at our church. The title of the retreat was Becoming Who You Are. Don't worry I'm not going to tell you how to be who you are or how I am going to be who I am. The retreat was a good one and an opportunity to think and reflect. One of the talks I listened to was about the seasons in the Church, which brings me to today's topic......Lent. Don't hang up yet....stick with me here, it's Lent.
Lent is the 40 days before Easter. It is one of the seasons in the Church. Did you know that Lent is 40 days long but the Easter season is 50 days long? Did you think it was just one day? Guess it makes giving something up for 40 days not so bad, if you are going to celebrate for 50 days afterwards. Just a thought.
Are you giving up anything for Lent? A question circulating all around this week. I jokingly said this morning on Facebook that I was going to give up Charlie Sheen for Lent... anything written or spoken by him or about him and we would both win. Now that I think about it more, it could be a great idea! Why clutter my brain? Thinking about things I've given up in the past is an interesting exercise. There were a few times that I gave up drinking. It was definitely a sacrifice especially since my significant other did not do the same. I still remember one time when our pastor found out that I gave up drinking for Lent and he asked, "Why would anyone do that???" Cracked me up!
One year after the "give up drinking" years, I decided to be proactive for Lent. I joined Weight Watchers for Lent. I had always secretly wished whether I gave up drinking or gave up desserts, that at the end of Lent I would also be about 10 lbs. thinner. It never happened, guess God did not think I needed to lose weight. Anyway, one year "I" thought I needed to lose weight and joined WW for Lent. I can do anything for 6 weeks, so that is what I did. Now I digress, just hold this thought for a paragraph.
Today at Mass, our priest was talking about Lent and the 3 things we are asked to focus on; prayer, fasting and alms giving. The fasting part was particularly interesting to me today. Fasting is a sacrifice of the flesh. It requires discipline. There is temptation all around, believe me I know, as I did my grocery shopping today and found a free sample on every aisle that I had to walk past while I was trying to fast. His point was that when we are fasting we are self disciplined and maybe during this process we become open to other things that might have gone unnoticed. I like that.
Back to the year I joined WW. What started out as a selfish venture ended up being a life changing experience. I found that while being more disciplined about what I ate I was much more productive in the rest of my life. I was also more disciplined in other areas and felt better. What started out as a 40 day commitment ended up being my place of employment for the next 8 years. By giving something up I opened myself to a life changing experience, God had plans for me and I found them by doing something for Lent.
I leave you with this thought. If you are giving up something or doing something special for Lent, let yourself be open to the new opportunities you find by living a more disciplined life, it is not always a bad thing!