One year I gave up chocolate.
Another year I gave up eating red meat.
Last year I had a friend who gave up Facebook!
For those of you who may not be familiar with the tradition, March 1st marks Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent for 2017.
(You might recognize people who attended an Ash Wednesday service by the mark of ash on their foreheads.)
Lent is often characterized as a period of self-denial and sacrifice, of giving up something, starting on Ash Wednesday up through Good Friday on Easter weekend.
In all my years of giving up something for Lent, though, what I didn't really grasp was a deeper spiritual perspective of "What am I giving this up for?"
Is it really all about sacrifice? Or is there something else this practice seeks to teach me?
After years of spiritual study and theological education, I've now come to see Lent as an opportunity to deepen my spiritual practice and to connect with the sacred in my life.
To me, the goals of fasting and giving up something aren't meant to serve as acts to deprive us, but to create openings and space for deeper understanding.
Rather than solely focusing on giving up something for its own sake, I also like to ask: What is it that you can give into?
For example, for Lent this year I’m giving up eating sugary and sweet desserts.
(For the last few weeks, Richard and I have somehow found ourselves walking to the local gelato place more than a couple times a week!)
Yes, I’m giving up these sweet treats. And...what I’m giving into is a greater expression of my own health.
By eating healthier, I’m consciously making a choice to cultivate vibrancy in my own being. My body feels lighter and I feel more energetic.
I know that when I’m feeling good in my physical body, I’m also feeling more in tune to be of greater service to my clients and students.
Ultimately, my giving up desserts is giving into my being a greater instrument of service to others.
From this perspective, when I look at giving up something for Lent, I see it as a spiritual practice that serves a greater way of being.
With this in mind, I would like to offer you your coaching assignment for the week:
- Whether or not you observe Lent, is there a habit or behavior that you’d like to change?
- If so, what might be an underlying benefit to making this change? In other words, how does making this change serve you?
- In what way can this change be beneficial to others or the world?
What might seem like a small change in your own life can have ripple effects in the world. We’re all connected to one another, whether we realize it or not.
When you decide to let go of something that doesn’t serve you, you give in to a greater way of being that helps to shine your light more brightly in the world.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about today’s post. Feel free to leave a comment below.