Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent. For those of you who don't know (and those who know more than me, feel free to correct me), Lent is a 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Technically, Lent spans 46 days; however, Sundays are exempt. Fasting used to be the norm during Lent, although it is now permitted to give up other items instead.
2009 marks the first time that I have ever participated in Lent. Last year, I read several excellent posts regarding Lent that inspired me to try it this year. At a Hen's Pace has a good post up this year that provides links to several Lenten posts for those interested.
When I began to reflect on what I should give up for Lent, I didn't really know how to choose. I thought about giving up the computer or TV, but I can easily substitute another activity for those and not really miss them too much. Then Jenn over at Conversion Diary started posting about her "Saint Diet." I won't try to describe Jenn's writings on this. Instead, I urge you to go over to her site and read what she has to say. I think that many of us can agree (or be convicted) about what she has to say on the subject.
As most of you know, I have been trying eat healthier and exercise. What I have not written about is that I have also been paying attention to when I eat, why I eat, and how I feel after I eat. My conclusions so far are that I eat more out of boredom than anything else. I am an emotional eater; I eat when I am feeling abandoned, neglected, or generally just bad about myself. Making the problem even worse, I tend to indulge myself on junk food or comfort food, which makes me even more emotional. Clearly, eating my emotions does not help. I found myself agreeing so much with what Jenn has written on this subject. Too many times I have sought to console myself through food rather than turning to God. To be brutally honest, turning to anything other than God to help me with my problems is a sin. Eating my emotions is nothing more than me trying to rely on my own ability rather than to turn it over to God.
During Lent, I will be limiting my unhealthy food choices, but I hope to do it for more than just physical gain. Because I have noticed that I seem to be more short-tempered and irrational when I fill up on junk, I think that severely limiting these foods will help me learn to focus on God to help me through the day rather than myself.
More importantly, I am going to make a conscious effort to eat only when I am hungry, and then only until I am full. I hope that by the end of the 40 days, my conscious eating will be a habit.
This may not be a true Lenten sacrifice, but purposeful eating is a big deal to me.
Of course, you don't have to do anything for Lent. I think a lot of Evangelicals don't participate in Lent because it seems like works instead of faith. I don't think that participating in Lent will make me more of a Christian or anything like that - I am doing it as an act of bringing my human desires under control, which is something all Christians are commanded to do.