We are right smack in the middle of Lent. This year, I decided to give up chocolate. Why? Well, I like chocolate. I really like chocolate.
I had a hard time finding something to give up. Over the past several years, I’ve stopped most of my unhealthy eating. I don’t drink soda. I’ve gotten away from eating potato chips. I don’t like coffee. I haven’t had french fries in over six months. So, when I was thinking about what to give up, I was stuck. The one thing that I do enjoy, almost on a daily basis, is chocolate. I eat dark chocolate because I’ve convinced myself dark chocolate is the ‘healthy’ option.
So, I decided to give up chocolate. I still get a hankering to break me off a piece of that rich dark goodness. Then I stop. I’ve given it up for Lent.
Now, I don’t equate giving up chocolate during Lent to what Jesus did. Not even close. Denying myself of something I enjoy only serves as a reminder. When I forgo chocolate, I remember this is the season of Lent. I reflect on Jesus’ denial of himself and the love that he had.
Giving up chocolate is a small thing.
As I thought about my practice, I began wondering if Jesus would rather me give up something a bit more difficult. Perhaps Jesus would have me give up criticism, judging others, pride, or greed. Going without chocolate isn’t all that difficult. Going through the day without criticizing someone or something would be tougher. I’m not sure I could do it!
Perhaps there are some practices Jesus would rather me practice during Lent. Maybe Jesus would have me love others, or forgive those who hurt me, or show compassion to those who are different from me. Now that would be a challenge and also a reminder of how he lived and served and all I have yet to give to him.