Lenten season the reason to 'give it up'



“New Year, New Me” is an all-too-common phrase at the start of each year. We set goals that seem easy to follow through with for 365 days.

Popular resolutions can be losing weight, saving more money, spending more time with family, learning something new.

But how often, after just a few weeks, do these goals fall through the cracks?

I have never been the New Year’s resolution-type. I guess I have seen too many people around me fail.

With the church season of Lent approaching, I am reminded of a second chance opportunity — a chance to restart and to go back to those resolutions.

Growing up, I attended the Catholic church, were it was common practice to give something up.

The church practices this as a way to mimic the sacrifice Jesus made. Church members “give something up” or “take something on” in a 40-day period until the Easter holiday. Giving something up was not a requirement but something that was highly-suggested in my childhood.

I remember in fifth grade, I gave up pickles for whatever reason, only to find it a huge inconvenience to eat a cheeseburger without them.

During a recent sermon at Holy Ghost Lutheran Church, the church I attend, Rev. Bobby Vitek talked about the importance of fasting in our everyday lives.

He provided the example of physically refraining from eating and in those moments, being reminded of our dependence on food and how often do we depend on our faith in the same way.

He also spent an entire week away from technology, hiding his cellphone in his sock drawer.

He talked about how, after an hour, he wanted to turn to his phone to Google something or to text someone right then and there. Again, the dependence of those objects has started to outweigh our dependence on our faith.

This got me thinking of the connection between New Year’s resolutions and the season of Lent. I am no longer faced with the challenge of wanting to give something up but rather what to give up or take on.

Giving up sweets seems like a sensible choice, only if it weren’t Girl Scout Cookie season. Giving up pickles seems outdated and too easy.

As a millennial, social media consumes my life. How will I like every Instagram and Facebook photo my college roommate posts while also managing to use it for my job?

How can my one hour a day of exercise that benefits my health, outweigh the two hours that I sit on the couch?

What is something to give up or take on that, after 40 days, I will feel rewarded, refreshed and glad about it?

In a recent conversation, Rev. Vitek reminded me that when we “give up” or “take on,” we are inviting an awareness of how we are living our lives.

Are we depending too much on desserts? Or are we truly treating ourselves?

I think we also have to remember that we can’t tackle on these challenges in one day or 40 days or even in 365 days, but we can start the momentum.

So, what can I do in the next 40 days that continues on for the next 365 days?  What can our community do?

Maybe we drink less beer even though it runs through our German blood. Maybe I see more of you outside exercising on my daily walks and runs and we cheer each other on. Maybe it’s a matter of committing to volunteering at more community events like the Fredericksburg Independent School District Band Turkey Dinner or adopting a highway or spending time reading to students in the OTTER program.

For now, I think I am going to try three, all with the goal of depending less on material and more on faith and relationships.

 I will give up sweets, depend less on social media in return having more face-to-face relationships and time growing in my faith, and take on the challenge of running a 10k.

Whatever it is, I hope you find your momentum. And please share it with me. I would love to hear what you “gave up” or “took on” because maybe that is what we all need.