General Question

ninjaxmarc's avatar

what have you given up for lent?

Asked by ninjaxmarc (2159points) March 13th, 2008 from iPhone

I’ve given up alcohol for personal reasons, someone in my life is an alcoholic and I want to be a good example and plan to do it even longer for health reasons. Lent, what and why?

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10 Answers

Randy's avatar

Nothing. I’m not really into that.

Perchik's avatar

Most people give up superficial things these days. The theory is that you should give up something that is truly hindering your relationship with God. I decided not to do it this year, but if I really wanted to give up something, I would give up facebook (and perhaps fluther.) Anything that I spend this much time on, cannot be good for me spiritually. But I didn’t do it.

ccatron's avatar

Here’s my stance on lent. If there’s something that I shouldn’t be doing, and if I’m not already trying to quit that particular action or mindset, then why is going to be any different during lent? as a southern baptist, I don’t observe lent, so maybe I just don’t understand it. But, if you know you are doing something that is keeping you away from God, why not work on it before lent? why wait? why is that time period different?

squirbel's avatar

It’s the idea of fasting. Everyone, whether faithful or secular, understands the benefit of fasting. It helps you become introspective, to better examine why you do things and at what cost. Lent has the added benefit of many people doing it at the same time as you – making it easier to stick to.

I would have to say my situation is quite like Perchik’s. I would need to (not fully abstain) cut my computer/iPhone time down to just work. I am ashamed to admit that my iPhone is glued to my hand and psyche. I’m always refreshing the site views and then back into the purse.

cwilbur's avatar

@ccatron: from a psychological point of view, because it’s easier to give something up “for 40 days” than permanently. Even if you know the thing is bad for you, it’s easier to give it up if you think it’s only for a limited time. And then, once you’ve been without it for 40 days, it’s more apparent that you don’t need it.

From a spiritual point of view, Lent is a period of penitence and preparation for Easter. It’s like making a special effort to clean your house before a party – you make a special effort to clean your soul before celebrating the Resurrection.

ccatron's avatar

@cwilbur – but why do people wait until Lent? I understand the significance of the 40 days, but why can’t those 40 days happen for people at other times during the year? Being a believer is an everyday thing! I’m not perfect, but I try deal with my sins as I am convicted, not just around Easter!

I don’t understand why some people only celebrate the Resurrection once a year. I know that we have set aside Easter as the day to officially remember the Resurrection. I think it is a great time for Outreach and a time for some believers to refocus. But isn’t that part of being a believer—to recognize the Death and Resurrection every day? So before and after lent…you don’t need to have your soul cleansed? you don’t like your house clean all of the time?

@squirbel – i understand the accountability aspect and it makes sense, but it also sounds like peer pressure to me. I guess I have seen people observe and take part in Lent who don’t really change from this experience. They say, “I’m giving up X to get closer to God”. After the 40 days, they take up X again and they are back to their normal life.

Before you say it….I know I’m making an assumption that most people are like my friends. My point is that if you are giving up something in order to get closer to God for 40 days, why can’t that happen at other times throughout the year? If we are true believers who have a relationship with a God who loves us, why are we not working on the stuff that separates us from Him 365(and 1/4) days a year?

*I realize my ramblings are repetitive in this post but I’m just trying to get my point across.

squirbel's avatar

I understand your point, personally. The conclusion (ever-evolving) is each person places a different value on a relationship with G-d. Some prefer “business-only”, and others are more “personal”. Business-only types have set times that they interact with G-d and church, and personal types are more dependent from day-to-day, event-to-event. And of course there are the inbetweens, but hopefully this sheds light on “why”.

Each relationship is seen differently, and judging that relationship is only the job of the Arbiter.

cwilbur's avatar

@ccatron: because in more liturgical churches, the church year is a metaphor for life, and there’s a special part of each year set aside for celebrating each important aspect of human life and Christ’s life. It’s not that we can’t give up something for any random 40 days; it’s more like, this is the time of year where we think about this, and remember this, and in keeping with that, this is an important spiritual exercise.

Two of the important principles in teaching are that you master one thing at a time and that you come back to review things you’ve already mastered. In theory, you focus on the nativity every day, you focus on the Holy Spirit every day, you focus on the resurrection every day, you focus on forgiveness every day, you focus on penitence every day, and so on.

In practice, liturgical churches set aside a period of the year to especially focus on penitence, a period of the year to especially focus on the resurrection, a period of the year to especially focus on the nativity, a period of the year to especially focus on the Holy Spirit, and so on. In this way, because we’re focusing on one thing at a time, we get better at that thing; and because we come back to it every year, we get better at it over time as well.

This approach may not work for everyone—it sounds like it wouldn’t work for you—but there are many paths to Jesus. As long as the one you’re on works for you, I’m OK with it.

ccatron's avatar

@cwilbur – are there multiple paths to Jesus? I think you used the wrong phrase when you said, “many paths to Jesus”. I think what you meant to say is that there are “different walks” in a relationship with Jesus. Being a Believer/Christian or getting to Jesus is defined by the following verse:

“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved” (Romans 10:9–11)

God brings us along different paths in our lives as believers, but to get to Him, there’s only one way. My intention is to not cause conflict, and I hope you guys understand that. I just like to propose some different views to make people think and to figure out why other people think the way they do. If your path WITH God keeps you in a good relationship with Him, then I think you should do whatever works for you.

cwilbur's avatar

I think invoking Paul in a discussion of Christianity is highly problematic, because Paul was writing letters to specific people with a specific purpose in mind and had rather strong biases of his own. But going farther down this path is only going to lead us to differences in the fundamental theology of Baptists and Episcopalians. We can appreciate those differences but not reconcile them, and I think we’d only annoy each other by trying to convince each other that we’re right.

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