‘Tis the Season Of Giving Up



Lent Sacrifices Lent is the time we give up, we sacrifice ourselves through forbidding. We forbid ourselves to indulge in tangible things that we love like soda, chocolate, alcohol and now even Facebook. We make a commitment to not have for 40 days. We plan one thing that we can live without but after the 40 days we will go back as we proved to ourselves we can deny but with limitations.

We give up things that are such a small part of us that we can sacrifice when we feel we are pleasing. We are pleasing in our faith, the folks around us asking us what are we giving up, ourselves to give that pat on the back and for some it is to belong into the cool kids club of giving something up. This may sound funny or sarcastic from a devout Catholic that has spent a good part of life giving things up. Oh yes, I gave up beer, bagels, cheese, cookies, sugar, ice cream, donuts (the last three were kinda easy as sugar, ice cream and donuts have never been my vice) but the cookies, bagels and cheese were not the easiest. Bagels, I have never really gone back to (as there is nothing that compared to a NJ/NY bagel) but cheese is an every day event and cookies are always on my mind. These were not real sacrifices as they were merely resisting the temptation to indulge.

What We Give Up

We give up because that is what we have been taught. We shall live without something for forty days so that we can experience pure sacrifice. We engage in self sacrifice and simplicity to shed us of the wanting and needing. This is the teachings of the church but over the years this part has been lost. Our need to please in giving up something has gone away from the true meaning of sacrifice and has become water cooler talk and also a second chance at commitment from failed new year resolutions. I am not here to preach religion and the holy season of Lent. We are guided in our own faith and interpretation thereof. Which makes the giving up all the more important.

I was watching the local news last night and was a bit taken back by the commercialization of giving things up. People were talking giving up alcohol (while they had a drink in their hand), smoking, foods and even Facebook. Facebook? Really? You would deny yourself communication with friends and family and, for some, playing games and this is sacrifice? No one said gambling which was interesting as we are willing to give up something that is risk free but something that is riskier like gambling we cannot turn away from.

Self Sacrifice or Sacrifice at the Expense of Others?

We give up with the intentions of self sacrifice. In giving up Facebook are we self sacrificing or more sacrificing those around us? If we turn off means of communication is that sacrifice at the expense of others? If I gave up soda when I was younger and my sister had a party with soda would that come into play? The attention to me giving up soda could become the focal point due to the Lenten season and take away from the party. Do others have to go out of their way to accommodate you? This may be seem a bit ridiculous but at the same time it is something to think about when we are selecting what we shall go without. Are we only thinking of ourselves and what we think we can live without while not seeing the effects it may have on others? Should others be a thought? What if we made our sacrifice not about us but about others?

Sacrifice to Benefit Others

Many give up but few take on. Taking on something that would benefit others is also us giving up something. It could be time, money or some  other thing that helps others. If we give up that $5 coffee each day and take the money and donate it to a local food bank, purchase toys for toys for tots, coats to donate to coats for kids. If we spend an hour a week volunteering to help teach children to read, we are sacrificing our time but for the betterment of others. Giving up Facebook or alcohol just for the sake of denying your self the indulgence, seems a bit silly doesn’t it?

Isn’t real sacrifice for the betterment of others?

photo credit: Ballistik Coffee Boy

  • Hi Suzanne,

    Interesting… for me, it’s giving up internal things like criticism, doubts, gossiping, or whinging (y’know the stuff no-one wants to admit it 🙂 ) rather that external things.

    Oddly enough, this does benefit others as they have to live/work with us…

    and Giving up Facebook or alcohol just for the sake of denying your self the indulgence, seems a bit silly doesn’t it?

    Very and it’s often vanity in disguise. ‘I’ve given up more things that you etc…’


    • Ivan

      Oh see the comments always make the article as I did not think of that one. It does benefit others in such a big way and it makes us more feel better about ourselves. I just shake my head when I hear the give ups. Make a difference. Me not eating cookies for 40 days is probably something I do often and do not realize.

      For me I could care less about pleasing, I care about making a difference. Heck I would take on 100 things before I would give up some meaningless tangible item.

  • Suzanne,

    Great post and an even better idea. This is a great twist on an old tradition. I will definitely be thinking about what I might “take on.”


    P.S. But I won’t be giving up my coffee anytime soon. 🙂