In Christianity, Lent is a forty day fasting period (excluding Sundays) that mirrors the forty days Jesus spent in the wilderness fighting the temptation of Satan before beginning his ministry. It is a time for repentance and fasting where Christians are to give something up in order to focus on their relationship with God and prepare for the Easter holiday. Just as Jesus fought his temptations, us lowly humans are expected to do the same.
A lifelong Baptist, Lent was always something I paid attention to, but not too much attention to. Growing up, I thought it was strictly for Catholics being that the Catholic kids I went to school with were the only ones who showed up with ash crosses on their foreheads for Ash Wednesday (the official start of Lent). Even this year when I explained to people that I was doing Lent, I got a lot of, “Are you Catholic?” to which I would joke and say, “I’m converting,” to which nobody but me ever laughed. But it turns out that Lent is open to be observed by all. I realized this a few years ago when my sister tried it. Even many non-believers dabble in it. I, myself, have tried it in the past but only lasted three days max because I’m ridiculous.
So why did I choose to go full out on Lent this year? Honestly, to finally attempt to check off one of my New Year’s resolutions: the ever popular and (often) never accomplished “lose weight/get healthy.” So I decided to give up cheeseburgers (this was originally beef, but I had two or three hot dogs and was like “oops”) and ALL forms of soda, which included my love, Diet Coke. Giving up cheeseburgers and soda in exchange for getting closer to Jesus? Sure, why not! So here’s what I learned:
That whole getting closer to God thing? It works!
I don’t know if it happened consciously or subconsciously, but I really do feel like my spiritual life improved. Maybe I began leaning on God more because I truly felt a new void in my life. Maybe not. Either way, through deeper prayer and spending time with my fabulous devotional book and starting a prayer journal, I’m left feeling renewed and cleansed and such. I might mess around and start wearing all white like LisaRaye. Lent works, ya’ll!
Did it help with my “getting healthy” goal? Yes!
I learned to distract myself from giving something up by picking up hobbies, old and new. Something I started doing again that I haven’t done consistently for about two years was walking two miles a day. Being out on the track again with just me and my music was everything. It gave me something to focus on and work toward because I felt I had to. I wasn’t giving up cheeseburgers and soda for nothing! I acquired a taste for oranges and grapes. Fruit! My diet had actually somewhat began to resemble a proper food pyramid. Incredible! Straight water (with an occasional lemonade) made me feel purified. My waistline is now a tenth snatched and my skin is popping. Lord, help me to remain humble as I become fine!
That thing you think you can’t live without? You can.
I certainly wasn’t eating cheeseburgers every day, but forty whole days without one? I didn’t think I was capable. And no Diet Coke or Diet Root Beer (which is FYE!)? Forget it. Surprisingly, going cold turkey on the two was much easier than I expected. I was never tempted to have any sip of soda. I almost gave into cheeseburgers one night at a friend’s house, but I beat it by settling for a piece of the bun, just praying to taste a centimeter of seasoning. Tragic! But I’m proud of myself, and I don’t know if I’ll go back to my old ways. I once read a tweet that said something like, “People who switch from Android to iPhone act like black people who move from the projects to the suburbs.” That’s me, ya’ll. I’m brand new!
It expanded my palette.
Gone were the days I could be lazy at a restaurant by simply ordering the fanciest sounding burger (which probably included bacon) and, of course, a Diet Coke. I had to work for my meal options now. Salads? They’re bomb. And thank God for the multitude of ways we can eat chicken. My diet is now more mature and I feel like a more balanced adult. Yes, I’m aware I’m dramatic.
So Lent? I’m quite impressed. I foresee myself being a yearly participant and I’m officially vowing to go on more fasting binges throughout the year (like, I literally just decided this). I challenge you to do the same!
X’s and O’s,