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Giving Up

The Guideposts executive editor shares what others give up for Lent.

Every year when Lent rolls around I go ahead and launch into giving up something for 40 days. No, I won’t tell you what I’m going to try to give up because that would be bragging about being humble which seems to go against the whole giving up idea in the first place. Suffice it to say, I’ll try. 

I know people who use Lent to give up bad mental habits. One year my wife, Carol, declared that she’d give up worrying for 40 days. (Our friend F. Paul said that would be like Fred Astaire giving up his tap shoes.) I’d be all for getting rid of fear and sloth and self-absorption for six and a half weeks. That would be some accomplishment. But then I’m always trying to tackle those demons.

I actually believe in giving up something material. It’s not about health, although I suppose there might be some health benefits to what I do. It’s about remembering that I am All Too Human and that I don’t really have to be a slave to the cookies at lunch or the chocolate bar in my desk drawer (and I’m not going to tell you what I’m giving up).

This 40 Days of Going Without is a spiritual discipline. It’s a way of saying to God, “I know I’m a physical being with natural wants and desires but you’ve also made me a spiritual being with wants and desires that you are ready to satisfy.” When that urge for the thing I’ve given up for Lent comes—as it surely will—I remind myself of what’s most important in my life. It’s not in the cookie bin or the chocolate drawer.

Of course, I also remember the year Carol gave up chocolate for Lent. She got so desperate, she declares she put on weight from overcompensating!

So have a happy Lent. Sorry if that sounds like a contradiction in terms. This much I can assure you: Give up something you really like for 40 days, you’ll really look forward to Easter!

Rick Hamlin is the executive editor at GUIDEPOSTS.

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