I used to not give things up for Lent.
I used to think it was an outward sign of a religion and not necessarily my faith - a cheap way for people to feel faithful, or worse, simply a family tradition.
I used to want to wait until I was stronger in my faith to give up something for Lent, because then it would mean something more.
But then I realized that I'll never be stronger in my faith than I am at this moment, and I'll always be a sinner.
I realized that giving something up for Lent might just strengthen my faith and my commitment to religion - every time I deny myself, "give something up," I'll remember what Christ gave up for me.
And so I realized that I'm going to give up something for Lent this year, and through the act of giving, I'll be placing myself, humbly, before God.
I'm going to use 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 for inspiration:
19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
The Apostle (Saint if you're Catholic) Paul is talking about sexual sin, sin commited inside the body. The same body in which the Holy Spirit resides.
For the purposes of my Lenten sacrifice I will interpret Paul's meaning a bit differently.
I want to honor my body as a temple to God this Lenten season (and, hopefully, beyond) by the nourishment that I put into it. For Lent, I'm going to give this a try by giving up processed foods.
What does that mean?
That means this will be a tough challenge.
Eliminating processed foods is a daunting task in America - the land of canned, shrinkwrapped foodstuffs. It's always disturbed me how much of the food I eat is wrapped in plastic. Food that is so processed that it's about as far from it's natural, life-sustaining ingredients as you could get.
You know how you always feel great after eating fresh fruit, veggies, and grains? And how you feel sluggish and gross after fast food? I'm shooting for more of the former than the latter.
So I'm hoping to get back to the basics, so to speak. And in doing so, honor the body God has given me - make it as healthy as it can be by the fuel I put into it.
In doing so, not only will I make a healthier me, but also I will remember why I am making the change. Hopefully the result will be a renewed faith and a strengthening of spirit.