I grew up in a Catholic family, attended Catholic school and lived (I swear) in one of the most Catholic cities in the country.
From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, my life was ruled by sacrifice, Boy Scout fish fries, the Stations of the Cross and the desire for what I couldn't have -- sausage links and candy. Or pop. Or hitting my brother. Or ice cream. Or whatever else I had decided to give up for Lent that year.
Even as my religious "practice" waned, I still kept up the ritual of giving up something for Lent. I liked to think it made me a better person and that I was doing it for the glory of God. But let's get real. I was doing it for myself as a way to kick off a diet or renew my healthy lifestyle.
For 40 days, I would give up soda or potatoes or candy and then, on Easter Sunday, I'd hit up the brunch buffet at Granite City and eat my weight in Carmel Rolls and Reggiano Hashbrowns. Total fail on sacrificing for God and total fail on improving my eating because all I was learning was to restrict and purge.
When I realized that Ash Wednesday was this week (thanks to my college roommate for reminding me/giving me an "Oh shit" moment), my immediate reaction was to start thinking of what to "sacrifice" this year.
Enter completely non-nonsensical thoughts of a sleep-deprived mother.
I could give up ice cream, especially the three bites of Mark's I eat each night, because Lord knows I don't need it. Wait. I could give up Diet Coke because that devil aspartame is going to make me need teeth whitening. Or what about macaroni cheese - kryptonite to my carb-loving self. It tasted way too good at the hospital the other day and it's really too easy to make shells and cheese for a side dish. Hot chocolate. Maybe hot chocolate? I know there are way more calories in that cup from the vending machine even if it is teeny tiny.
And then I realized that the only person/deity I was thinking of was myself. If I really wanted to do something for God, I would move my long runs to Saturday and go to church on Sunday. Or at least think about going to church and not running. (Don't even get me started on the notion that it would be me pretending to be pious for a whole 40 days.)
On the flip side, if I want to do something for myself - if I want to make positive changes - I don't need to wait for the black cross on my forehead for the go-ahead. I can do it any time as long as I set my mind to it.
Lent - what are your thoughts?