Lent: Or How I Learned About Sacrifice

As those of you, like me, who were raised Catholic may know we have reached the Lenten season leading into Easter. For those of you not raised in the Catholic Church, or brow beaten into going to Sunday school… Lent is the period of 40 days prior to Easter in which we spend time praying, making sacrifices, and not eating meat on Fridays- and fasting if you’re confirmed! Anyway the biggest part of lent, after the whole not eating meat on Fridays/fasting is the Lenten sacrifice. For the 40 days, you are expected to give something up or find some way to better yourself as a human. Though my Catholic faith is less than consistent at this point, I always attempted to participate in lent and chose to sacrifice each year in lieu of bettering myself. This year however, I’ve chosen to work on bettering myself- physically, mentally, and spiritually. But before we get to this year, let’s review some of my past lents!

Growing up, once you make first communion (2nd grade) you’re expected to begin observing lent and start participating in the whole sacrifice thing. For many years of my childhood I recall giving up something rather minuscule like ice cream. Which, while I love ice cream is not something I was eating every single day or anything. It was tough, for a kid but probably not all that difficult past elementary school. When I was younger (and even still) my family would go to Disney pretty often, always in the spring before Easter as it’s typically less crowded. I remember us going to one of our favorite restaurants, Alfredo’s in Italy at EPCOT, and ordering spaghetti and meatballs and my mom reminding me that it was Friday and I couldn’t have the meatballs. As an 8-year old I was absolutely devastated by this news. Instead of letting me absolutely lose it and burst into tears in the restaurant, my mom told me that we would just set the meatballs aside and box them up and bring them back to the room with us and I could eat them tomorrow. I stopped my almost-tears from flowing and agreed to this arrangement, pleased that my sacrifice needed only be temporary. However later that night, when I realized I wouldn’t be able to have my traditional Disney dessert of a Mickey Premium bar, the weight of what I had given up really hit me. I think this was probably one of the first times I really understood what it meant to give something up.

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You can’t see the devastation on my face in this picture, but giving up ice cream was hard. 

Let’s fast forward a few years to middle school, where my typical Lenten sacrifice was chocolate. While this may not seem a big sacrifice to some of you, it was huge to preteen/teenage Meg. Chocolate has always been a vice for me, a reward when I’ve done well and something to lift my spirits when I’ve experienced some form of sadness or defeat. Giving up chocolate for 40 days meant I wouldn’t be able to celebrate an achievement or commiserate a loss in a way. While ice cream was something few and far between for me, chocolate was a much more present sacrifice. I learned that sacrifice was something that was meant to be hard, not something casual that was a bummer here and there. When I hit high school, I really stepped up my game for lent and decided to try and give up snacks and sweets of all kinds. Obviously I could partake in fruit and the like, but I wasn’t allowed any: candy, ice cream, cake, cookie, brownie, etc. and also wasn’t allowed to snack between meals. This way I ensured that I would fast on Fridays because I had no other choice, snacks were out. Those were some tough 40 day periods, but when I came out the other side successful it meant a lot. It meant that I could give up a lot and still get by each day without these things I thought I needed.

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A slightly more mature (aka middle school) Meg with my friend Nicole… also at Disney because that’s where all my pictures are from apparently. 

Now let’s get around to my point, which is that this weight loss journey was about a lot of big sacrifices. I gave up a lot of things that I loved, and never thought I could live without. Truly. That’s how addicted I was to some of these things. Pasta was a part of my weekly, sometimes daily life in the past and to cut that out because of all the carbs and calories was really tough for me. In the last 20 months I’ve made quite a lot of sacrifice in the service of bettering myself physically. It’s time that the rest of my life start sacrificing things in order to better myself in other ways. This year for lent I decided not to give something up specifically, but rather just work on improving little things. I’ve starts trying to spend less time on social media- Facebook was always my go to scrolling place when I was bored or had nothing better to do. Now, instead I’m trying to spend extra time reading or writing posts for this blog. I’m trying to unplug and just enjoy things as they happen instead of constantly attempting to capture an elusive moment with my phone. As for the spiritual betterment, that’s a work in progress. But for the time being, I’m exploring my options- mostly by doing yoga and trying to use breathing exercises when I’m stressed. Working on calming the inner me and becoming mellower or something. Like I said, it’s definitely a work in progress.

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A photo with my dad & Shaun from last weekend at EPCOT. I’m really proud of the definition in my arms that’s showing up now! Happy Easter Season! 

Are any of you participating in Lent or any form of self-sacrifice for the time being? Maybe for a prescribed period, maybe for an indefinite amount of time. I would love to hear from anyone working on bettering themselves!