Lent is once again upon us. A time when the Catholic tradition encourages a change in of our life until Easter. As a child, I would dread the coming of Lent, knowing that I would have to give up candy, chocolate, something that I loved and I could not understand why. As an adult, I’ve come to understand that abstaining from a food for 40 days is not always a bad thing.
I cannot remember when exactly, it might have been third or fifth grade, I had a CCD teacher that explained Lent was not just about giving up chocolate, but it was about making a choice to improve your life. With that change of perspective, my Lent decisions were modified to provide a benefit and were no longer about “losing” but creating a better life for myself. We are trained to always think of “sacrifice” as a negative. However, what we may perceive as a sacrifice, in the end, could break us away from a bad habit that we might not be able to stop otherwise.
As for what to “sacrifice” for the next 40 days, I do not view it as sacrificing. I choose something that will improve my life or the lives of others. The first successful change I made was the elimination of pop. I was an avid pop drinker and ever since that Lent, I have virtually eliminated it from my diet because it gave me the opportunity to find other beverages I enjoyed drinking (such as water and lemonade). Another year, I made a promise of myself to go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I am proud to say, that since I’ve made that commitment in February 2008, I have not missed more than one week consecutively at the gym, unless an injury required me to stay away from the gym. One year, I made a commitment to save an extra $10 a week. I was successful and I proved to myself how easy it was to save the extra money and showed me how much money I wasted. This was the beginning of my frugal living. These changes in my life, no matter how small they might have been, have assisted me in developing the life that I want. By being diligent for those 40 days, it became a habit and I had no excuse to not continue on the path that I had started.
Fridays during Lent we are to abstain from eating meat. I look forward to this all year long. I partially believe it’s because I live in Pittsburgh and we have such a strong tradition of “Fish Fry Fridays.” I look forward to trying different types of fish, rice, pierogies, anything that is not meat related! I do not think anyone can disagree that homemade pierogies from Polish women are one of the greatest creations on Earth. Yes, I am aware, that beer battered fish and pierogies are not healthy, but I justify it by knowing that these items are homemade! There are some fish frys that do offer fish that is not fried and healthier alternatives. This time of the year gives us a chance to think outside of just meat, to force ourselves to try different foods and to understand that we can eat a meal without the main course being meat. Not only are you broadening your horizons and possibly becoming healthier, but also helping the local churches. What more could you ask for?
Even if you are not Catholic, I encourage you to make a lifestyle change for 40 days (well it is technically longer since Sundays can be used as a freebie days). When you decide to make the change, do so with a positive attitude, remove the negative connotation of a “sacrifice.” You never know, one small change just might change your whole world.
Let’s make this interactive! What are your favorite Fish Frys? Best “sacrifice” you ever made? What are you giving up this year?
Take it easy.
**Note: I am a confirmed Roman Catholic so my perspective is based on the knowledge that I have received growing up in the Catholic Church.