With today being Ash Wednesday, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Since I was raised Roman Catholic Ash Wednesday has always meant the start of “No Meat” Fridays (along with no meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; and sometimes Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday for good measure) and 40 days of sacrifice.
When I was younger I would dread giving up something for 40 whole days. It would be something I didn’t really favor that much, like chocolate (there was a time when I HATED chocolate). I gave it up because I HAD to not because I wanted to.
Then last year happened. For the first time in about 5 or 7 years (but who’s counting) I went to Ash Wednesday church services with a group of coworkers. I was reminded that the reason I abstain, fast, and repent is because I want to honor the 40 days and 40 nights Jesus fasted and prayed before spreading the word of God. If Jesus did it for me I can do it for him!
No, I’m not going to go around spreading the word of God; I do that everyday through my beliefs and morals and how I project them into the world. But I will abstain from a number of things this Lenten season:
- No meat on Fridays (the standard, I do this every year)
- No caffeine (I started this last month, so I’ll keep it going)
- No high fructose corn syrup (may seem VERY random, but it’s not)
- No alcohol
- No fast food
I WANT to give these things up. I want to clear my body of things it does not need; things that make it (me) some degree of unhealthy. None of the above are vices for me (well maybe the high fructose corn syrup), but they are inhibitors of one kind or another. Inhibitors = BAD!
So, the moral of the story: Do things/follow traditions because you want to not because you have to. You’ll be a happier person for it.