Giving Up is Easy (aka: Why I don’t Lent)

Christians around the world have observed Lent, aka “The Great Fast” pretty much since Jesus ascended into the clouds. The idea is fairly simple: for the 46 days leading up to Easter Sunday, Christians choose to fast. The way that looks may differ, depending on one’s flavor of Christianity. For example, many Catholics choose not to eat meat on Fridays during the Lenten period. Orthodox Catholics take this to a whole new level, abstaining from all meat, oils, even eggs and dairy for every day leading up to Easter (They also celebrate a different Easter, but that’s another story). Evangelical Christians as a whole do not traditionally observe Lent in any organized way. However, many choose to “fast” from something else they consider important, such as alcohol, social media, or sex.

lent-cross-2

Regardless of how the fast is observed, the underlying principles are the same. Lent is a time to make oneself uncomfortable, just as Jesus was uncomfortable roaming about in the desert for 40 days with nothing to eat. And in our discomfort, we can learn to refocus our energy on God, to face our demons of complacence and gluttony, and to forgive the offenses of those who have sinned against us. It is not only just an exercise to see if we’re strong enough to give up something we hold dear; it is also a chance to hit “Reset,” to renew our spirits and get back on the right track.

I know that some of you readers may have already dived into your 40-Day fast with enthusiasm, and are already tweeting or blogging about your great journey through the desert after giving up coffee, chocolate, or texting. As for me? Well, I don’t plan to give up anything.

Yes, you read that correctly. I have zero plans to fast. (I know, I know. Sinner! )

abstaining

Here’s the deal. I have learned that I am a highly adaptable human being. Give up things that I once held dear? Break old habits? Abstain? No problem! I once spent more than a year abstaining from most food. It was oddly easy, and for the first (and last) time in my adult life, I got to unlock the achievement level of Skinny. These days, I eat food, but I’m abstaining from simplex carbs and real sugar, so that I don’t accidentally fall into the pit of Diabetes. I am also happy to eat mostly plant-based meals, so giving up meat is not a struggle, either.

Sex? Ha! I will win an abstinence from all forms of sex contest Every. Single. Time. Grandmaster level of sexual abstinence. Give up social media? Been there, done that. I even gave up the social without the media. Alcohol? Who needs it? Caffeine? I’ve been a decaf coffee and tea drinker for months now and don’t miss a thing.

fasting-noeating

I guess if I were going to really give up something I am attached to, then it would be giving up computers or reading. But these both have too many loopholes, like cell phones (technically not computers) and audiobooks. Also, giving up either would jeopardize my career goals, and I’m pretty sure that’s not what the church has in mind.

Anyway, fasting doesn’t work so well for the highly adaptable. Giving up is far too easy to do when you refuse to become attached to necessities or vices. Don’t hold on too tight, and it’s easy to let go when the time comes. Even during Lent. The harder thing, for me anyway, is learning NOT to quit. Learning not to shrug my shoulders and walk away from everything and everyone. Learning that maybe, some things in life are worth holding onto.

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Gold to Silver (aka: Time and her Sister, Change)

Time is a flowing river…

Bah! That is not an accurate metaphor at all. After all, we can build a dam to staunch a river’s flow. But there is no technology in existence that is able to stop the flow of Time.

And Time, of course, never goes anywhere without her twin sister, Change. Together, the two make a brutal pair. Their constant, onward march affects everyone and everything in their path. And oh, how we fear them! How we loathe their very existence. We desperately wish to hold back Time, to force it in the opposite direction. We fight Change with every ounce of our strength.

old way new way

But we are not strong enough.

Everything falls to Change. Like leaves on a tree, people change. Children grow to become adults, and as adults, we grow fruit, we change, and we fall. Our bodies succumb to the weight of old age.

Ideas change. Society changes. The words and labels which were widely accepted by one generation are deemed offensive by the next. We protest. We struggle to hold on to the old ways of thinking, the old ways of living life that worked so well for us. But Change is a thief who steals gold and replaces it with silver. We will fight her. We will wield our swords, our guns, our ballots. We will raise our most powerful weapons in an effort to hold Change at bay.

And sometimes, we succeed.

But never for long. We forget that Change has a fiercely loyal sister who will always sweep past and overpower us, despite our best efforts. In the end, everything changes.

So what can we do? How do we keep ourselves from falling into despair, knowing that as time continues forward, nothing will stay the same? We have only two choices. We can attempt to trick Change. If Change is inevitable, then perhaps we can convince her that Path B is a better direction than Path A. We can manipulate the direction of things to come by forcing the changes we wish to see. Sometimes this works, and the results can be brilliant. Or horrific.

Steven Hawking Intelligence

Even better, we can remember what we as humans do best. We adapt. The stronger we are, the smarter we are, the faster we adapt to life’s changes. We do not fear Time and Change. We do not run from them, screaming. We do not waste our energy holding them back. Instead, we accept them as our friends. We remember that Time and Change can help us to forget the trauma of the past so that we can find joy in the future. That they often bring along friends, like Maturity, Wisdom, and Grace. We remember that Time and Change can help to heal disease, end suffering, and open doors of opportunity which were once locked to us. Change can be good. Time can be kind. It is all a matter of perspective.

Darwin adaptibility

For better or for worse, everything changes. It is hard sometimes to watch as our precious gold is transformed to silver. But that silver will eventually transform into to gold. It is only a matter of Time.