Feb 27, 2017 by Will Maule

8 Things Every Christian Has Tried (And Failed) To Give Up For Lent

Lent is an incredible season of sacrifice, spiritual enrichment, and contemplation on the great work of Christ. But often, we are guilty of simply skipping it. We couldn't possibly do without chocolate, or alcohol, or material things, we think. Well, perhaps it is time to take up the baton of devotion again, and to commit to fixing our eyes on Jesus ever more fervently over the next 6 weeks. Ruth Gledhill at Christian Today highlights 8 things she's tried and failed to give up for lent. I reckon many of us can identify with this!

1. Chocolate
"This stuff truly is the devil. It is like a drug. I really hope that admitting here, publicly, that I am powerless over it and that it seriously could make my life unmanageable – I can't afford a whole new wardrobe – will help me rediscover how to turn to God and be restored to sanity, at the very least for Lent. I still, to my shame, find it impossible to buy someone else a box of chocolates without buying one for myself as well. Even in Lent. "

2. Alcohol
"I tried for several years in my early 20s to give up alcohol for Lent, without success. I finally stopped drinking in the month of May, many years ago. One day at a time, I've not picked up a drink since. But even though God has without question been there, helping, throughout my sobriety, I never managed to do it when trying to do it for Lent."

3. Spending money on unnecessary things.
"Going into a shop and watching the cash register being rung up – normally for some item of clothing that will look beautiful once I'm two stone lighter and so ends up in Oxfam a decade later – is some kind of weird adrenaline fix. It does feel like chocolate tastes."

4. Temper
"If you lose your temper, someone else will find it,' our mother used to say. 'I don't care,' I would retort. 'Don't care was made to care, don't care was hung. Don't care was put in a pot and boiled till she was done,' she would reply. It is a few months now since I seriously lost my temper. Just the fact of getting older, and being less at the mercy of the hormones of youth, has been a great help in this, for which I thank God. Just as it helps with money to think of 'giving it away' rather than not spending it, so with temper, it helps me to think of positively doing the opposite."

5. Envy
"Again, getting older has helped beyond measure. With all the 'seven deadlies' giving them up for Lent is of course a good idea but it is not enough. Along with lust, gluttony, anger and the rest, these are things that need to be worked on constantly."

6. Work
"A friend of mine helped start the 12-step fellowship, Workaholics Anonymous. Work is not a sin. Our AngCath household could be very Protestant when our parents felt like it and we certainly imbibed the Protestant work ethic along with the Mariology and the fasting and all the saints. But like everything else, work can be used as an escape. Do I really need to spend those extra two hours in the office, or am I trying to avoid my husband because I let him see my jealousy that another woman dared speak to him the other day?"

7. Coffee
"My husband cut down on Starbucks for a year and put the money he would have spent in a jar every time he didn't go. He saved over £1,000. I would save the money I would have spent and give it to charity. Then there's Prêt, Café Nero and all the rest: If Starbucks goes, the others will have to as well otherwise it's cheating. Not sure I can manage 40 days without the chocolates in Café Nero though." 

8. Pride
"This is perhaps the one that most needs giving up, and is the most impossible to do. The 'sackcloth and ashes' of Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, are a tangible reminder of the inescapable fact spelled out in Genesis – from ashes we come, and to ashes we will return. The ashes are tangible – 'pride' is harder to grasp as a physical essence. Satan knows its power, and it is possibly his most effective weapon, subtle in its blandishments, deathly as a funeral. Even humility can be prideful, when done ostentatiously."

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