Sacrifice or Discipline?

So I struggled with what to sacrifice for Lent this year.  I’ve done sodas, sugar, sleep, various food products, etc.  Actually, when I first started giving up something for Lent (about 15 years ago) it was almost always a food item.  I think it was because anyone I had ever heard of giving up something for Lent had always given up food items–soda, chocolate, salt, meat–and I didn’t understand enough about it to get that it could be anything.  So this year I really struggled.  I gave up sodas about seven years ago, but now I don’t really drink them (almost as a direct result of that year).  I somehow felt that food’s were trivial.  That God was telling me that food wasn’t important enough to me to be a sacrifice, and then to focus that time in service.  I pondered this for weeks, trying to determine exactly what I was supposed to be sacrificing.

And then I figured it out.

I wasn’t too far off when I said time.  Granted, last time it was really more of the snooze bar, so that I could go to the gym.  But I just cancelled my gym membership effective March 1, so that’s not going to work.  Instead, I realized (well not really, I’ve known it for a long time) that if I come home and plop on the couch, I’m not going to get anything else done in that evening.  So I told myself that Monday through Friday, when I get home, the TV cannot turn on until 9pm or later.  This may prove to be particularly difficult on Fridays, as I get home by 115 in the afternoon, and Saturdays I have yet to determine the parameters (but trust me there will be some–I’m thinking no tv between 10 and 6) but so far this has actually made a difference.  Granted it’s only day 2, but it is.  Yesterday I finally got a bunch of laundry done and sorted my bills for the first time in five weeks.  Today I got my 2012 tax information together, cleaned out a cupboard, and kept going on my VHS to DVD project.

And yes, I prayed more.  I thought about what I was doing, and thought about why we do this thing called sacrifice.  And I think that this might be a worthy journey for me over the remaining 38 days.  Not to say that I don’t plan on purging after Easter (have you seen the 31 days of Oscar lineup on TCM?  I mean come on!), but it will be a valuable lesson and who knows–like my soda habit, maybe this will declare some new habits for me as well.

Day One of 40 . . . .

1.  This week marks the beginning of Lent…will you be giving something up or adding anything to your life during this season of the year?
I have given up things for Lent in the past, but the last two years lost track of time and we were two weeks from Easter before I realized it.  Among other things, I have given up sodas (and never really picked them up again), TV, and sleep.  Yes, sleep.  Or more accurately, giving up the snooze button.  I was trying to get to the gym every day before work, and it worked for a while, but then I got sick.  So not so much.  Besides, giving up sleep?  What was I thinking???  A few years ago (okay, more than a few) I was listening to NPR on my lunch break, and I heard a Catholic priest talk about how when he was in school, his roommates were trying to figure out the whole Lenten sacrifice thing.  They didn’t think it was right that he got to pick what he was giving up, because he’d pick things that were easy to do without.  So they decided they should pick his Lenten sacrifice for him.  And they have done this for over 20 years.  You can read the article on NPR here.  It really is a fascinating account of what it means to him and his friends to have this ritual every year.  Anyway, I’ve been trying to figure out what or if I’m giving up anything this year.  Refined sugar?  Lately chocolate cravings would really make this difficult.  I thought about TV again, but I’m also realistic.  Facebook?  I am not sure.  My mother doesn’t get why I agonize over this–we were raised Baptist, she says.  Baptists don’t do Lenten sacrifices, she says.  She doesn’t get that it’s an exercise in discipline for me, and a way to connect closer to God as I am still trying to decide . . . .   Edited to add:  This year the Father has to give up ginger (ale included), lollipops and donuts.  

2. The day before Lent is Shrove Tuesday… tradition states you eat pancakes on this day. In some parts of the world Shrove Tuesday is actually known as ‘pancake day’. How do you like your pancakes? Or don’t you?
I never heard about this!  How do I not know about this????  I love pancakes.  Haven’t made them in a while, but I do love them.  Must have lots of butter and a bit of real maple syrup.

3.  I’m sure there are many, but what’s one love song you really love?
“Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton.  I think I listened to that on repeat over and over and over again in college.  Second place would be “This Night” by Billy Joel.

4.  What are some things you do to let others know you love them?
Tell them.  Show them.  Pray for them.

5.  Roses…red, pink, or do you prefer another color? Can you recall the last time someone gave you flowers? Given your choice would you like to open the door and see a dozen red roses, a dozen purple tulips, or a dozen pink peonies?
My boss’s wife gave me flowers for my birthday last year.  Such a sweet lady.  Bright pink Gerber daisies.  I love live flowers of any kind.  Peonies are beautiful, tulips are fun every now and then, but I love yellow and orange roses too.

6.  President’s Day will be celebrated in America next Monday. Does US Presidential history and trivia interest you?  Many Presidential homes are open to the public and offer guided tours…Monticello (Jefferson’s home), Mount Vernon (Washington’s home), Montpelier (James Madison’s home), Hyde Park (FD Roosevelt’s home) and The White House (home to the sitting President) to name just a few. Of those listed which would you be most interested in touring?  Why?
Considering that four of the ones on your list are in my home state (well, if you count the White House) and three of them are within an hours drive, you couldn’t grow up in Virginia without having it crammed down your throat.  Plus if you add in Ash Lawn, home of James Monroe.  It is sort of fascinating.  Yes, I do enjoy it.  I haven’t been in decades though.  I should go again.  I could also go see Pine Knot, Teddy Roosevelt’s country hunting lodge, Woodrow Wilson’s  birthplace and library, and President Hoover’s camp at Rapidan.  I’m telling you, this area is a political history buff’s dream come true.

7.  Are you good at keeping secrets?
Sometimes.  Depends on the secret and my level of interest.  I don’t like to be the secret keeper for friends, as it’s usually a bitter and hateful kind of thing.  If it’s good news, that’s another story.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
Hmmmm.  Random thought . . . random thought.  I really need to clean my house.  Like I REALLY need to clean.  And you know what?  I just don’t care. 

Happy Wednesday y’all!