Lent is a time for ‘giving up’ something, for austerity, of limiting oneself so as to more fully appreciate what we have and to gain humility of those who have less than us. For Christians, Lent marks the holiest time of the religious year, when deep devotion to Christ is manifested, well, in the act of ‘giving up’ something, usually pure indulgences like chocolate, wine, shopping, (and jam if you’re me) so as to become more Christ-like and embody the ways of the son of God.
As with every other human being, it’s a real struggle to give something up; and hence, therein lies the importance of doing it.
For this Lent I’ve decided to give up something too, just like everyone else. I’m giving up on me.
I’m giving up on my self-doubt, self-criticism, lack of confidence, unhappiness, and putting jam on my toast every morning (my conversations with others participating in the practice tell me there has to be an absolute element of eradicating sugar during Lent, so that’s my contribution, and it’s a big one for me let me tell you).
Yes, I’m going to just be, and to just be happy with just being. I’m hoping low self-esteem doesn’t decide to show up at around day 25-30, (right on time, as always), so I’m already preparing for that eventuality by deciding I’m not going to listen to you low self-esteem, this is my Lent practice, I want to enjoy the art of being me, imperfections and all! I know 40 days is a long time to feel ‘good’ about myself (ironically, my staunch Catholic up-bringing has taught me that this religious season advocates against ‘feeling good’ or enjoying oneself, but if I’ve been feeling mostly tortured by my own human deficiencies the rest of the year, and persistently rushing to improve myself, why not 40 days of absolute happiness? And even more, austere happiness, or humble happiness, created by nothing else than the simple joy of just simply being happy for the sake of it? Isn’t that an embodiment of true devotion as well?). I digress; I will learn to practice self-kindness, and in so doing promoting kindness to others.
Then, on Easter Sunday, what would most greatly befit the culmination of all this ‘giving up’? A chocolate bunny? A cream egg? A new bike? No, just more self-happiness, and not feeling guilty about it! ‘It is ok, me, you can feel good about yourself and be kind to others too, really, you can!’.
Thank you Lent, and thank you God, for being compassionate enough to help me realize that kindness to myself is just as important as kindness to others; what’s a little extra sugar for myself after all? I’ll make it up by not having jam every morning with my peanut butter on toast for 40 days.
Peace and love,