The last few years I've had some interesting Lenten experiences. Among things I've given up:
fast food (and what it represented--using God when it was convenient)
the scale (oooh, that was a HARD one that year!)
My criteria (besides the first couple of years I observed it) has always been that whatever I give up has to have REAL meaning. None of this giving something up that I'm not particularly attached to, or that doesn't represent a true sacrifice for me.
This year I'm going to be doing things slightly different--although still with lots of meaning.
I'm giving something up, but I'm also adding some things in.
I'm adding more emphasis on relationships.
More times of reflection and prayer. Anthony and I will be doing a Lent reading every night together, over the phone or in person if we happen to have a date that night.
And more awareness of God's presence around me. This means whenever possible I'll be outside in nature, I'll be driving without the radio/cd's on quite often, and I'll look for those "fingerprints of God" in my everyday life. I'll also be limiting my computer and tv time somewhat.
What am I giving up?
this means no mint chocolate oreos before bed each night. If I'm going to have one, it'll be tagged onto the end of dinner. I can still drink milk before bed, or have a cup of hot tea :)
this means no sneaking a bag of chips in the grocery bag.
this means no stopping at McDonalds because I'm having a french fries craving.
It DOES mean that I'm focusing on my body as the temple. That I'm feeding my body pure and healthy snacks, and that I'm not taking the easy way out by opening a package of overly processed food. Instead I'll have to make more room in my fridge and fruit bowl. And my body...is going to love it.
It doesn't drastically change my eating habits--I'll still have the occasional bad-for-ya meal...but between meals? All healthier options.
As for today itself, Ash Wednesday, I'll be liquid fasting from sunup to sundown. Because of my history, it is dangerous for me to do a true 24 hour fast, so this is my modification.
I'll also be down to one meal on Fridays, so in essence will be doing a repeat of Ash Wednesday each Friday. However, I'll also observe the tradition of no meat on Fridays--and for me that includes fish. Doesn't hurt that I'm not really thrilled about fish in the first place ;-)
I'm going to end by posting a poem that I found floating around the internet...I have no idea who to give credit to, unfortunately.
Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling within them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on trust.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on nonviolence.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on truths that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence..