Give it up already!

I overheard a few single women discussing what they were giving up for Lent today.

“Yeah, I am giving up Chocolate.”

“I am giving up Starbucks.”

“We’ll be bitchy, but thinner.” (that’s my imaginary movie line insert)

A typical exchange between women (THIS IS A GENDER THING?!)…smacking of self-importatnt deprivation that sounds antispiritual and inauthentic.
Contrary to pop notion, lent is not about deprivation or giving something pleasurable up. It is a time of retreat from the routine in order to gain clarity, vision, release. It is a time of preparation, an emptying of sorts, in order to become more receptive to one’s purpose, to grace. I don’t think giving up chocolate is going to fulfill any spiritual quest.

In fact, it’s not about deprivation, it is about preparing for abundance.

Come on, chocolate?

If you need to cut back down on chocolate because it isyour main source of antioxidants, that is one plausible noble endeavor. In that case, instead of saying NO to chocolate, why not say YES to eggplant? But many people use mass traditions (new years, lent, reunions) to rationalize behaviors that they aren’t really owning. “I should do X before Y” We’ve all been there, especially us single gals. But are these traditions of deprivation, like giving up chocolate, adding depth and meaning to your life?

Or are you just doing it to don the appearance of discipline and achievement. Honestly, what does consumption of chocolate or starbucks say about your character? Absolutely nothing. We don’t really care if you eat chocolate, gals. No one is watching you and going to give you a gold star for your nobility. Here’s a harsh truth…we don’t really care about your chocolate consumption.

When are we, whether we are single or paired, male or female, kid or adult, going to stop equating what we consume with our worth? Our cars, our clothes, if we had mayo on the sandwich at lunch, say NOTHING about our worth, wether or not we deserve freedoms or to beloved.

But wait you say: What we choose to consume, however, may say somethingabout our values. For instance, if we choose not to endorse financially organizations that are morally bankrupt, like those producing goods from sweatshops. Or if we choose to be vegetarians out of a value to protect the environment. But seriously, if you have a candy bar, does that mean that you are a sloth? NO! You don’t gain power or control or a sense of capability bysaying no. You get it from saying “yes” to your values.
Believe me: you can not buy/not buy or eat/not eat something to gain esteem. Consumption or depravity does not build character.
Our culture says that our hunger or appetites should define who we are…do you agree?

4 thoughts on “Give it up already!

  1. I went to a religious college and lots of people liked to talk about what they were doing for Lent- and it became more about “the thing to do” rather than the purpose of Lent. Which, from what I can gather is about giving something up so you appreciate it more (outside from the spiritual stuff, which I couldn’t comment on because I’m not of a religious bent, nor have I been.)

  2. I would LOVE to give up talking. I don’t observe lent or even really know when it is but frequently I wish I could create the space in my life to live for a few days or a week in silence.

    I’m a chatterbox and I consume a lot of my own energy by talking. I think the silence would force me inwards or godward or SOMEPLACE deeper than I’ve ever been.

    Of course, if I chose to do this it, it would be impossible to explain. I’d have to do a silent retreat or something.

    But it would be wonderful! It would be a real challenge and a real learning experience for me!

  3. I’d give up my opposable thumbs for a day and see if guys around me pick up on it as an indicator of my desirability

  4. Totally agree! In my life I seem to run into a lot of people who love to deprive themselves- or at least love to brag about it. “I don’t drink coffee” “I don’t drink alcohol” “I don’t eat meat” and my favorite: “I don’t watch TV.” I love coffee, alcohol, meat, and TV, and if that makes me a horrible person, so be it!

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