Giving Up Fried Pickles For God?

Is it just me or has celebrating Lent become the cool thing to do? It seems like everyone is giving up something – sugar, french fries, soft drinks, facebook, twitter, blogging.

A few years ago, a co-worker proudly declared that she was going to give up fried pickles – “why fried pickles” I asked, “just because” she replied. I love me some fried pickles, but it seems a little ridiculous to think that cutting them out of my diet for 40 days is going to change anything about me – not my weight, and certainly not my faith.

Fried Pickles

Fried Pickles

I totally support the idea of having a season of sacrifice to draw closer to God, but candidly it seems like a lot of people have jumped on the Lent bandwagon and aren’t contemplating  “the reason for the season.” (I know, cheesy phrase, but it gets my point across.) Is Lent just a great excuse to resurrect the things my failed New Years’ resolutions? (And I do have a few.)

How are you celebrating Lent? Are you restricting yourself or adding new disciplines?

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  • I have to agree with you. Even a few years ago when I was in college, everybody was giving up something for Lent because it was “what you were supposed to do.” I think that if you give up something for Lent, it can be a very rewarding experience, if you do it for the right reasons. But I feel like lately, it’s gotten to be almost a Hallmark holiday. I’m just waiting to see the “Sorry for your loss at Lent” cards at the store. 🙂

  • Jim Thomason

    There is an acceptable, and even preferable, alternative to giving something up for Lent. You can, instead, DO something positive for Lent. It could be volunteering, going to the gym instead of being a couch potatoe, visiting the elderly neighbors in your neighborhood, etc… The key element to Lent is sacrifice; that can be giving something up or simply giving. I’m also not a fan of saying what you’re doing for Lent. If you or someone you know is working hard on a particular habit of sin, well, you don’t always want to share that with the world. If you’re doing good work, it isn’t really pure if you’re taking credit for it. I’m for doing something sacrificial over a 40 day period and keeping it to yourself. But I’m just sayin’… 🙂

    • I totally agree, and was going to write that instead of giving something up I plan to volunteer consistently during Lent. This will (hopefully) have the spiritual benefit of helping me to become less self-centered and more community focused, while also give me a "sampler" of some activities I may want to incorporate into my life more long-term.

      I was going to say all that, but now I'm not because I agree that we should keep it between us and God. Oops. 🙂

  • My husband is observing Lent this year for the first time. He also just became a member of a Lutheran church. I was raised in a different (still evangelical) tradition. I was brought up to believe (wrongly) that Lent was for Catholics and that they gave up meat. I don’t know if I read that somewhere or if that’s just what the Catholics I knew had as their tradition. If I were to give up something for Lent, I’d want it to be a covenant between me and God, not something that I broadcast via all available social networking tools. Just seems more like a solemn vow to be made not a proclamation of self-denial from atop a soapbox. If Lent is making a comeback and not just in liturgical/high-church/Orthodox circles, I’m actually glad. It’s always good when people are willing to sacrifice a part of themselves in order to go deeper with God.

    Good topic for discussion. Thanks. Now off to do some research on Lent.

  • As you know, I am an Eastern Orthodox Christian. Fasting is a big part of our tradition. We have been observing Lent since at least the fourth century (not me, personally, of course).

    We don’t see Lent as a sacrifice so much as a time to say “no” to distractions and “yes” to Jesus. The real issue is an increased focus on bringing our wills into conformity to the will of God — something we call theosis or becoming like God.

    To often, fasting can become another form of self-indulgence. It is not about what we are doing for God but stripped-down desire to see what He is doing for us.

    Thanks for a great post.

  • I love fried pickles but I don’t think I eat them even twice a year so going 40 days wouldn’t be much of a sacrifice. I’m with you, it seems that Lent has become all the rage lately. I didn’t grown up in a home where Lent was recognized so it’s still foreign to me. I kind of want to understand it better.

  • Never had the fried pickles. Just ran across your blog today. Thought I’d say hello!

    –Terrace Crawford
    http://www.terracecrawford.com
    http://www.twitter.com/terracecrawford

  • Hey! Your twitter friend has found your blog! YAY! 🙂 I don’t give anything up for Lent bc it ends up just making me frustrated and I don’t draw closer to Christ as I head toward the chocolate I’m trying to give up. Sooooo…..my family and I try to give back. We look for little ways to share the love of Christ to people who may not be expecting it. Its fun and much easier for kids to grasp.

    Have a great weekend!
    Love,
    Fran

  • Leslie Reed

    As an “Evangelical on the Canterbury Trail” (noted by Robert Weber in his book of the same title), I have appreciated what author Frederick Buechner had to say in a Lenten devotional, compiled from his various writings by his publisher HarperCollins:

    “In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the River Jordan, Jesus went off along into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

    “If you had to bet everything on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?

    “When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and who do you see in it that you most deplore?

    “If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in 25 words or less?

    “Of all of the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest?

    “Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

    “If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

    “To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become.”

    And this from a priest at St. Alban’s in Washington DC on Ash Wednesday, when asked if congregants should wipe off the ashes on their foreheads following the morning service–“If the ashes make you uncomfortable, leave them on. If they are a source of pride that you attended an Ash Wednesday service–wipe them off.”

  • Hmm. Like Mike, I sorta think of Lent as a time for eliminating distractions and refocusing on God. So I'm thinking about giving up sleeping in and beginning each day with the daily office. I'm self-employed, so sometimes I get into a habit of sleeping in a bit and then rushing though the rest of the day. Maybe this will get me into the habit of starting the day off right, and more importantly prepare my heart and body for Holy Week..

    Great post! I sure love your blog, Lindsay.

  • I'm with Jenni Lent is a new thing for me. I need to find out more. You got me thinking !
    My recent post God is a God of Second Chances

  • I'm a Methodist girl.. and yes, we observe Lent. 🙂 My church is completely focused on God's Word and giving to others through missions.. but observing lent is personal and intimate. With that being said, it changes every year between God and I. Do I give up something or give more of myself.

    To be honest, it's snuck up' on me this year.. Ash Wednesday is this week… time to do some internal diving and see what He has to say to me.

    Thanks for the post girl.. as always.. splendid.

    Love ya – Momma D
    My recent post senselessness and a great responsibility…