Fifteen years of Catholic School and I still needed to Google why it is exactly we give things up for Lent. I knew the general idea, Jesus fasting for 40 days in the wilderness. I’ll always tick the Catholic box but one of my favourite movies is Dogma, this probably tells you all you need to know about my faith. Still, I pray every night and I try to live my life in the way the God I believe exists would want me to. That’s more than many who claim to be devout can say.
I remember we used to get Lenten boxes in school that we were supposed to use to save all the money that we weren’t spending on crisps and sweets (potato chips and candy to the non-Brits amongst you). They were green and usually had something to do with CAFOD. It’s funny what memories you keep from your childhood.
We were often encouraged not to just give something up for Lent but to also take something on. I was never very good at either to be honest. It was always a case of saying I was giving up something that I wasn’t really a big eater of anyway. And even with the best of intentions, saying that you’re going to help more around the home and then dropping a plate every time you did the dishes quickly dissuaded your parents from asking you to be helpful.
For the most part, since I left school, Easter meant double pay if I chose to work or more recently a few extra days off in April. Easter eggs have always been a part of the season but most often because it meant I got a new mug to go with my chocolate egg that would usually sit in the fridge until someone ate it. The mug too would be relegated to a cupboard until one of my actual tea drinking friends would pay a visit. I roll my eyes at the thought of giving “Easter presents.” Really? At least there was a St. Nicholas (jolly or not) so those gift-giving roots are traceable. I don’t ever remember reading about a saint that delivered gifts at Christmas, and I didn’t need Google to verify that.
I’m not sure why I chose this year to decide to give something up for Lent. Perhaps it was the example of my friends. They’ve always exercised amazing willpower when faced with chocolate filled temptations. More though I think there is a need in me to be better, and that means not only giving up the junk but also having the discipline to stop bad habits. No more chocolate. No more crisps. No more biscuits. As when I was younger, I never ate any of these in excess but they have become the snack of choice.
One of my worst habits though has become my addiction to my Blackberry, it hasn’t earned the “Crackberry” name without good reason. The first thing I do when I wake up is reach for my phone and it’s the last thing I check at night. It used to be that if I was spending time with friends it would remain in my pocket, but recently that too has changed. I am a slave to that flashing red light. So it’s time to break the habit.
I spent most of last night discussing possible time restrictions and designated hours. However, the reason I got this phone was to make myself accessible to my friends at all times. I know I am not that indispensible that I need a bat signal, but it puts my mind at ease that should my friends need me then I can be reached. I am certain the purpose of Lent is not to make me constantly worry about my friends. So there will be no restrictions in place.
However, what I have decided is that during the job hours the phone will stay in my pocket. Out of sight will hopefully mean out of mind. There will be no BBMing or Tweeting after 12am on school nights (with the exception of ABM Fans update days and birthdays for the obligatory midnight tweet). When in the company of friends it will be set to show that I am not available.
I know that these goals are realistic. A year ago it was how I lived my life, and it’s how it should be. I’ve just lacked the discipline to do it. Jesus used his time in the wilderness to prepare for his ministry. In 40 days I’ll have broken bad habits. In 40 days I will have my life back from that little red light. In 40 days I’ll be back to where I need to be.