If you know me, you know I have a pretty strong faith. Each year, on Ash Wednesday in March, I begin the practice of Lent. Lent is a Christian event that lasts for 40 days until Easter. During those 40 days, the typical practice is to give up something that you enjoy. The religious significance of this is that Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert, so Lent is recognized in observance of that time. In the past I have given up soda and even meat. This year I have decided to give up one of my favorite things on the planet - sweet tea. My eighth grade year, I decided to get a little creative with what to give up. I decided to give up meat, which I knew was going to be a challenge. I learned to eat a lot of tofu, which was a process. At first I thought it was absolutely disgusting, but the day my mom grilled some in garlic I was hooked. It was especially difficult when I was out and there was a fast food run. I quickly got tired of just eating French fries, so I was ecstatic when I realized there was a restaurant that served grilled cheese sandwiches in the drive-thru!
While that year of Lent was pretty hard, I think this year will be almost as difficult. I am a complete sweet tea addict. I almost always have a jug or two of it in my fridge and it's my go -to drink order at a restaurant. Until Easter however, I will have to survive off of water and orange juice. A lot of my friends have given up sweet tea as well this year, so at least we have each other. While my sacrifices feel pretty steep, I have heard of some pretty insane things that people have given up for Lent. I know someone who gave up hot showers and braved the icy water for 40 days. I have also heard of things like giving up sleeping in a bed, and sleeping on the floor. While traditionally something is given up during the 40-day period, someone can also choose to take on something new. Some people participate in random acts of kindness. Some donate to a charity every day during Lent. While I have never gone this route during Lent, I definitely think it is something to consider I will consider in the future. There are several different ways to approach Lent. Some denominations require you to give up meat on Fridays. Some people do not participate on Sundays. I have always continued through the week even on Sundays, meaning that I am actually participating for 46 days. Regardless of how one takes part in Lent, it is actually an opportunity to come together with others who are sharing in the experience with you. Even if you are not religious, I challenge you to give up something for a while. Whether it's your favorite food or your cell phone, you might be amazed at how much of a reality check you receive. It can get difficult if you are surrounded by your sacrifice - my friends like to jokingly flaunt their sweet tea around me. However, the sacrifice can give you an entirely new perspective on your life. For me, Lent has always taught me to appreciate what I have. Having something taken away can give you a new understanding of how much you truly have. Wish me luck as I keep away from my beloved sweet tea for the weeks before Easter.