Commonly a time where self-indulgent people everywhere choose to give something up....we often hear about people giving up a certain food (chocolate, anyone?), or soda (mmm, bubbles), and these days there are crazy people everywhere even giving up Facebook (crazy I tell you!).
Forty days without chocolate, Dr. Pepper, or putzing around on Facebook when I should be writing cover letters & applying for jobs? EEK.
Try forty days without running water, or 40 days on minimum wage, or 40 days without any internet whatsoever (gasp!).
Ok, that last one is a joke. Hopefully if you're reading this you know me well enough to know that every once in awhile I throw a little sarcasm in to spice things up. But only a bit. :-)
But seriously. It's ONLY 40 days. And maybe it would do well for all of us, church goers or not, to try a measly 40 days without something. However, I would argue that it's not just about giving something up. For me, it's about what I mentioned above - honoring the things I eat, and the products I use, and all the things I take for granted - honoring where they came from; honoring the hands that contributed to their production; acknowledging my own privilege in being able to CHOOSE to give something up. There are plenty more people in the world who have no choice, who don't even know when their next meal is, and here I am choosing to give up (gasp!) chocolate. What a sacrifice.
These are things I will reflect on for the next 40 days. In the midst of the various things people choose to reflect on during this time of year, this is where my heart lies right now. And, as a method of accountability, here are the things I'm going to be intentional about these coming days....
1. I will not be spending ridiculous amounts of money on fancy coffee drinks when I can easily make my own. No, I'm not quitting coffee. This would be unwise and detrimental to myself and all those who come in contact with me (my therapist agrees with me). But let's talk about the many reasons I should NOT be frequenting Starbucks every day...I'm spending crazy amounts of money!! Why is this bad? Well, there's the obvious reason of I don't have a real job and can't even afford health insurance so what the hell am I doing spending $$ at Starbucks?!! Ultimately, though, there are much better places and things I could spend my hard-earned part-time money on, and Sbux is not it. And when I make my coffee myself, I can choose fair-trade options, I can know where it came from, and I can know what I'm putting in it (instead of all those fatty delicious calorie-laden syrups that Sbux adds). Overall, I think this should be healthier for both my wallet and my waistline.
2. The only sweets I will eat are those that I made myself, or that someone close to me has made themselves. I'm smart, you see - I'm not doing the typical "I'm giving up sweets for Lent!" That's just crazy. And I've done it before. It doesn't work for me. Easter comes and I gorge myself on ice cream and chocolate, and then think constantly about these things pretty much everyday thereafter. (Yes, I'm admitting this to the whole world right here - please don't judge).
My reasoning for this one comes from reading in the last several months all of Michael Pollan's books about the US food system. In Food Rules, Pollan talks about how readily available and cheap so much processed food is in the US. Back in the good ole days, if someone wanted fried chicken, or french fries (or you name it), they couldn't just run to McD's or KFC and pick up a box. They had to spend the day cutting and peeling and battering and frying, which takes awhile! Not to mention all the cleanup that comes with it. Ick. So...in an effort to honor where my food comes from and what goes into them, I'm going to make my sweets myself - that way I know exactly what's going in them, and reducing my intake of processed foods...which is a long-term goal of mine. This will ultimately be healthier for me as well because it will cut down on the number of sweets I eat. Plus, I can't wait to see how homemade ice cream turns out! And I'm also on the lookout for a Nutella recipe. :-)
3. I won't be using plastic bags at all. If I go to a store and forget my reusable bags - well, I'd better not buy more than I can carry in my own 2 arms. When I need to clean up cat poop, well, I'd better figure out a more environmentally friendly way to dispose of it. Need I say more?
What practices are you giving up or adding for Lent this year?
Check back next week for an update on my Lenten practices :-)