Each year, well past the time when New Year's resolutions have fallen aside, Catholics have the opportunity to start fresh. Perhaps the Lenten sacrifice is part of other Christian denominations, as well, but for Catholics, it's sort of a huge deal. Some will, as I did as a child, give up candy or soda for the forty days (which always manages to be forty-seven days, counting Holy Week) between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Others will go without television or secular music. And then there's the alternative definition of "sacrifice," the one that more closely relates to the New Year's resolution, the life change. These forty days may mean more than a break from smoking or a release from the temptation of dessert, they may mean the start of a new life. During Lent, some will try to become more patient people. They may start to pray more. They may truly stop and take a look at their lives and their priorities, and, hopefully, come Easter Sunday, they won't decide to go back to their old ways, cloaking themselves with negativity while those who gave up sweets rabidly consume peanut M&M's and Cadbury eggs.
What will I give up or change? Well, that's between God and me. I will say this, I'm not giving up candy (I hardly eat it, what kind of sacrifice would that be?) or anything tangible. I like that. I like that I won't be sitting down to eat with someone, not order a soda and have them ask me why I'm not drinking one, "Oh," I'd say quietly, "I gave it up for Lent." I don't like having to share that information. It always feels pretentious. So, instead, I'm going to work on something that really is beteween God and me.
I will say this much: I remember a time when I could actually fit into the category of "sweet," as in, "She's a sweet girl." I think I've gotten a bit more sour with time and would like to recapture some parts of who I was in the past, and to do that, I have to start by taking a serious look at what God wants for me.
Whether you're returning to a New Year's resolution that you abandoned before the last half-price Christmas items were off the shelf or taking up a new challenge, or even if you're not a Christian, I hope that you can take the next several weeks and consider anything in your life that might not exactly be working for you, or for God, and think about changing that.