Go on, admit it, you like the cute kitten don’t you? But what came to mind when you read the phrase “I give up”. It is associated with defeat, loss and failure. Maybe you have said it when you have reached the end of your natural resource and resilience and cannot go on anymore. However, I want to suggest “I give up” can have a totally different meaning.
We are in the season of Lent and lots of people are “giving up” chocolate, coffee, sugar or social media (noooooo!!!!). But what does this really mean?
Lent is one of the oldest observations in the Christian calendar. But, like all Christian Holy Days and Seasons, it has changed over the years. Its purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter. Early church father Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of such a season in the earliest days of the church, but back then it lasted only two or three days, not the 40 observed today.
In 325, the Council of Nicea discussed a 40-day Lenten season of fasting, but it’s unclear whether its original intent was just for new Christians preparing for Baptism, but it soon encompassed the whole Church.
How exactly the churches counted those 40 days varied depending on location. In the East, they fasted on weekdays. The western church’s Lent was one week shorter, but included Saturdays. But in both places, the observance was both strict and serious. Only one meal was taken a day, near the evening. There was to be no meat, fish, or animal products eaten. Eventually, various foods (like fish) were allowed and, gradually, over the years, the rules have relaxed considerably.
I see Lent as an opportunity to give up bad habits in order to cultivate good habits so, here is my list of what I am giving up for Lent:-
I Give Up criticism and Take Up Encouragement
I Give Up grumbling and Take Up Blessing
I Give Up pointing out faults and Take Up Praying for people instead
So, what have you given up for Lent?