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I’ll Just Have Water

Published: March 4, 2009

I’m not a diabetic, but I eat like one.
I’m not much of a believer in Rhonda Byrne’s “Secret,” but I often practice the power of positive thinking.
I’m not an athlete, but I work out regularly.
I’m not a vegetarian either, but I eat a mostly plant-based diet.

I am, however, a Catholic. But I rarely go to church, and when I do, I don’t understand half of the motions I’m going through, and I have never sacrificed anything for Lent … until now.

This past Sunday I attended a mass on a whim, my pathetic attempt to—dare I say— “check-in.” I usually take the hour to daydream, plan out the rest of my day, or worry about the upcoming week. But this time was different. At one point, the priest asked each one of us to come up and take a pebble from the “desert” display near the altar. We are to keep the pebble throughout the Lent season (which ends Easter Sunday) as a reminder to resist the temptation of indulging in whatever it is that we are giving up for 40 days.

This is one of the traditions I have never fully understood. How is giving up chocolate for a few weeks going to better the world? If anything, it will only make me more cranky and difficult to be around, right?

But then again, I like a good challenge. And I always feel a little stronger every time I complete one. So I thought, why not? I have the pebble … But what to give up? It needs to be something I enjoy almost every day. Coffee? Never gonna happen. Gum? No. (How would I cover up my coffee breath?) Diet soda? Hmmm … I do love diet soda, especially in the afternoon. Just hearing the can crack open makes my mouth water. This would definitely be a challenge.

And so it’s on. I don’t think my boycotting of soft drinks for 40 days will change the world, but it will change me. I will be well trained in resisting temptation and be a stronger person for it, or so I’m hoping. And oh how sweet that first sip will taste come Easter.

Have you ever sacrificed something you enjoy in order to experience personal growth?

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  • Heather

    Thank you all for the supportive comments. This challenge has already served as a conversation piece to allow me to talk about faith; it has put me in touch with family I haven’t communicated with in a while; and it’s a daily reminder of all the little things I take for granted. And I still have 33 days to go or should I say grow. Thanks again!

  • Joy

    I like your point – I don’t think my boycotting of soft drinks for 40 days will change the world but it will change me. And that makes Lent so powerful we perfect ourselves to be more like Him. It is a challenge but He died on the cross for us – we can try and give a little back. I have sacrificed many different sweets in the past. I am not giving up anything this Lent. With Danny and work if I can get a second to grab a snack I ought to! Instead I am working to be a better wife mother co-worker. I hope to be more patient loving and more trusting in God’s will by Easter. Big challenge huh?

  • David

    Heather Though you’re not going to better the world with your Lenten sacrifice you are bettering YOU. I think of it two ways – a) you’re developing strength by denying cravings even if it is only for a little over one month and b) you’re putting things in perspective. Giving up soda does not equate to the pain suffered during Jesus’ crucifixion but it reminds you of what he went through for us at least. Thanks for the insightful commentary.

  • jeanne

    What a great article—I too think OK how will my giving up or sacrificing improve the planet or mankind?? I have never given up a thing for Lent–ever. All of my 7 kids do however. Now how is that possible?? Where did I miss out on the ‘guilt or else’ thing?? Don’t know but your crisp clean refreshing and insightful article certainly gives one a pause. I just may this Lent–56 yrs late. Thanks for your insight Heather. Well said!!

  • Kathy

    Lent is a special time of year. I can remember giving up candy and it seemed like an eternity. Giving up something for Lent is truly a test of strength. I can also remember as a child going to church every day during Lent. Going to 7:00A Mass every day was really a challenge. I think it was my Dad’s committment but he wanted to take the whole family. My two sisters went for about a week and I went for the whole 40 days. When you achieve a goal it makes you aware that you can achieve other goals as well. Thanks for your wonderful article!

  • Jeeja

    Yes I gave up pastries once for lent. I didn’t feel that I experienced any personal growth but I did discover the strength of will power.

  • Miteymowse

    Heather here’s another challenge for you….
    See how long you can go without soda AFTER Easter.

    I gave up on soda years ago because the caffeine bothered me. After a while I lost the craving and now I think it tastes like carbonated sugary motor oil. Juice and water for me please!

    To be honest it was diffcult at first to resist the soda temptation. To help me get through it I would only drink it when I went out to eat. I considered it as a treat I could look forward. But eventually the excitment wore off and I stuck with the yummy alternatives that wouldn’t tear up my stomach.

    Good luck and keep us updated on how your challenge goes!

  • Janet P

    Way to go Heather. That is the first step in the right direction.