Matthew 6:16

"When you fast, do not look gloomy..."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Deciding What to Give Up for Lent : Part Two

The above picture is courtesy of photobucket

Yesterday I posted about how giving up something for Lent is supposed to bring us closer to God.   That is the main idea, whether we are giving up sweets, coffee, money, or time.  Only we ourselves can determine what would bring us closer to God, though sometimes input from people who know us can be beneficial.

Last year one of the things I gave up for Lent was alcohol.   I didn't really want to, because after my mom passed away, I had some trouble sleeping, and I found out that a little whiskey in my tea right before bed and I was out for the night.   I was weighing out whether or not I was depending on that cup of tea with whiskey and honey to comfort me rather than God.  But in my heart, I did not want to give it up, because I didn't want to feel the pain all night when I need to sleep.  (I coped during the day fine by leaning on my friends, family, husband, and just plain crying a lot.)

I turned to my friend Sarah for advice about what I should do.   I know what Jesus had to say about not letting others know when we fast (Matthew 6:16-18), but I needed someone who cares about me to nudge me in one direction or the other.  Sarah advised me that if it is this hard for me to decide to give it up, then it is probably what I ought to give up.  The idea is to sacrifice something for God.   It shouldn't be easy.

Without my friend's nudging, I probably would not have done it.   It was good for my relationship with God, in that I spent time talking to Him when I mourned at night, rather than medicating myself to sleep, and it was good for me in that after Lent was over, I didn't need tea with anything to soothe me to sleep.  Now the only time I drink whiskey for medicinal purposes is at the start of a cough!  And it is not a secret that I toast on special occasions ;-)

No, I won't be celebrating today with a toast, unless of course, it will make you happy! ;-)

But on a more serious note, I don't think it is wrong to have a friend as a sort of spiritual advisor to help discern what to sacrifice, provided that the intent is discernment, and not to have a cheerleader in our corner.


  1. Thank you, Helen!
    I'm so glad that it was good for your relationship. I'm so curious as to what you will decide to do or give up for Lent this year.

  2. I just hope you don't give up our plans for world domination for lent. :o)