I'm not Catholic. Growing up I had a brush with Catholicism because my mom converted when I was about 5 or 6. My dad and brother and I continued in the Presbyterian church while Mom went to mass.
I never learned much about what being Catholic means. I remember Mom making the sign of the cross after we'd bless our dinner. She volunteered at the soup kitchen at the church some holidays when we were in town. One Thanksgiving she had to get stitches because she cut her finger while slicing turkey!
One time we went to a huge church with a beautiful garden to drop something off (a meal?). I was running around the garden smelling all the roses and I saw one of those huge "locust killer" wasps flying around. I was terrified of those things and reacted as such. The young priest who greeted us reassured me that it would leave me alone and that I had nothing to worry about and he kind of waved it away. This was a Man Of God with a White Collar and Priest Stuff . . . he was in the KNOW about things like that. I had a feeling of peace and protection and after that day I was only mildly concerned when one would fly near me.
One day a year my mom would come home with a big black smudge on her forehead and that meant that until Easter all Catholics ate fish on Fridays. That's all I really knew of Lent. I think I had an idea that she gave something up, but I'm not sure.
Since then I've obviously become more informed about what the season of Lent means to Catholics and how it ties in with Protestant Christianity as well.
For the past few years I've made a conscious choice to observe the "fasting" that Lent encourages. I have given up something that I enjoy as a small token of worship to the One who gave up everything for me. In the past it's been things like chocolate (probably in the top 5 of what people give up), Diet Coke (the three day headache was a sacrifice!), chips, etc. Small things, but things that I enjoyed on a daily basis to remind me of for Whom I am living my life.
This year I contemplated what to give up. Chocolate? Chips? Chocolate chips? I don't drink diet sodas any more so that's out. Coffee? I even toyed with weird things like giving up mascara or driving (that would actually kind of be a blessing . . . "Nope, Mom can't take you to yet another practice/get together/game/etc. I gave up driving for Lent"). Should
I give up something intangible like time or something that would
seriously impact my life like giving up the internet? It just all seemed empty or ridiculous or, worse yet, stretching. I prayed about what God wanted me to gain from fasting. What is it that would make Him happy and bring me closer to Him?
Yesterday - Ash Wednesday, the start of the season - a friend posted a link on Facebook "40 Things to Give up For Lent". I think that's my answer. I read the list and it contained things like "negativity" and "distractions" and "over-commitment". Now THIS is something that I can get behind. This list is something that I think God has been working on in me for a while.
I subscribed to the emails. Each day I'm going to get an aspect of myself to give up. And I'm going to make myself blog about it - or at least journal about it. I say "make myself" . . . and that ties in to the aspect from yesterday:
Fear of Failure