My FA suggestions for this Lenten Season

I am reflecting this Ash Wednesday on the season of “Lent”.  Today starts those 40 (or 46 if you count the Sundays) days that are so often considered a re-boot of flagging or failed attempts to kick-start new “healthy habits” (aka: Diets Lifestyle Changes intended to garner lost weight) that were resolutely announced for New Years Resolutions.

However, rather than take this ancient season of fasting and spiritual reflection as another call to shrink your body; I’d offer up a few other suggestions. This Lenten season why not consider giving up The Fantasy of Being Thin? Make a pledge to lessen your Carbon Footprint? INCREASE the time/money/energy you commit to helping others? Feel free to share in comments alternate ideas might you have for things/actions to “give up” (or, in what I think is a more encouraging phrasing: “to give of”).

Forget making this time before Easter yet another reminder of the ways in which you consider your body to be a failure by taking on yet another calorie-restriction or food-denial or body-shrinking initiative.  Talk a breath, reflect on how God created you in hir image, and find another option waiting there for you this season.

I have a distinct impression that God cares less about you pledging to refrain from eating chocolate than you’d like to think. You are free to disagree, of course, and may even now be saying “But April D! This is a season of Fasting!  I’m SUPPOSED to diet!”  I firmly argue that fasting, the restriction from meat and all the spirituality in the world don’t mean much if it is simply done with an eye towards a smaller body.

In a time when “46 days to Get That Bikini Body in Time for Summer” are gleefully encouraged, and that temptation to make Lent yet another kick-start of dieting habits revs up, I can’t help but think of this humble line: “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” Genesis 3:19.

Your body is the wondrous shell in which your spirituality is contained. But that is all. No more, no less. It does not define who you are or the relationship you have with any higher beings you worship or wonder about.  Don’t lose sight of that in the hustle and bustle of Lenten Dieting Initiatives.

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11 thoughts on “My FA suggestions for this Lenten Season

  1. YES. This. Last year I gave up my scale for Lent, which was a real push. But since I see sin as that which separates us from God, it made total sense. This year, I’m giving up alcohol, and *feasting* on self-care/relaxation.

  2. Last year someone suggested giving up complaining for Lent, which ended up being this profound lasting thing in the form of No Complaints Saturdays.

    • Shannyn I know my church tried to run a no-complaining thing a few years back and it was very difficult! Do you find that No Complaints Saturdays to be peaceful? Stressful?

  3. Thank you for this. I am giving up sweets/desserts for Lent, which I’ve done for years now, and I want to make it less “diety” and my observation of Lent as a whole more meaningful. I’m thinking I may use this calculator to find out what I typically spend on sweets in 40 days, and donate that money to a charity for the hungry.

    I’m also making it a point to take the opportunity to enjoy more savory foods. Like, I’m not fasting in the sense of eating less, I’m just giving up one particular thing that I really like. I am trying to figure out how to respond to the inevitable “oh, you’re being so good!” comments.

    • KellyK I love the added bit about donating saved monies to charity. I think that might be more the spirit of restriction that was originally intended for this time (well, that and actual religious fasting for spiritual connection but again we’ve certainly drifted away from that!)

      If you think of good responses to “You’re being so good” please do share. Often a simple, “Food is ammoral” might work. Other times you’ll just get blank stares.

      • Blank stares are okay though. If I’ve confused them enough that they’re speechless, they can’t say things that bug me. 🙂

  4. Boy, I must be REALLY dense! Have NEVER in my life associated Lenten sacrifice with an effort to lose weight. Am sure there are those who do, and that’s SO not the point.

    Love Kelly K’s suggestion of figuring out how much one would spend on sweets during a 40-day period & donate it to a worthy cause . If all of us who observe Lenten restrictions did that, think of how many truly hungry people we could help! Thank you, Kelly.

    • Carol: I wouldn’t think of you as Dense, just lucky not to have come across this! And unfortunately no one would get much if I sent money I usually spend on sweets (since I’m a salty fan; not much into sweet treats) but do still really like the idea of combining any Lenten restrictions you do take on (meat, sweets, whatever) with donations to those in need.

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