Lent : Giving Up vs. Letting Go ..... The Season Of Shedding
"..ain't no feeling like being free, when your mind's made up and your heart is in the right place.."
If you know anything about me, then you know that I was born and raised in New Orleans, La., a city whose only seasons include festival season, crawfish season, carnival season, and Lent. Funny thing is, most of this is all one big season anyway, so besides Thanksgiving and Christmas, we basically spend the rest of the year waiting for it to all start over again. New Orleans is a city with a history deeply rooted in Catholicism, so we would spend all Mardi Gras long wilding TF out and then wake up the day after Fat Tuesday repenting in church. It’s a religious and citywide tradition to celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lent by choosing to sacrifice some of your bad habits and such for the next 40 days until Easter. It’s kind of like New Years all over again..... Everyone is on diets, not eating sweets, not drinking sodas, and most importantly, fasting from red meat on Fridays. FYI, the best fishplates and crawfish boils happen during lent, your welcome, lol. I remember spending all Mardi Gras long trying to decide what I was going to give up, trying to make each year better than the next, lol. Candy, ice cream, cereal, I have given up my favorites during fasting season only to revert right back to my bad habits after Easter. I was born and raised Catholic, went to Catholic schools all my life until college, but my mom always encouraged me to have my own relationship with God, whatever that was, and she never had a problem answering my questions when I had them, because whatever the topic was, there were always questions, lol. Most religions participate in fasting as a sacrifice of some sort to "give up something" in an effort to gain self-discipline and get closer to God. However, for me, it began to lose its meaning and I found myself aimlessly participating in traditions that I was not even sure how to navigate successfully for myself. I was just going through the motions, even to the point that I would spend so much time focusing on what I was "giving up", that when Lent finally came, I still had not decided, and most times, I just wouldn't participate. I started to build up a spiritual guilt that I wasn't sure if it was stemming from me not feeling connected to my fasting experience, or opting out of fasting for Lent all together. In the Book of Isaiah, chapter 58:6–7, Israel is told that their fasting should be more of a spiritual fasting rather than just a worldly one. This passage discusses the concept of fasting as more than just an abstinence from food or water, but a decision to fully obey God's commands, to turn away from wickedness, and to care for your neighbors, who may be sick, poor, and oppressed. As a thirty something year old woman, with an almost pre-teen son, I have a responsibility to guide him on a path to believing in something bigger than himself. In addition, I realized that maybe just giving up coffee wasn't the most spiritually successful journey for me. It had to be bigger than that. I had to be bigger than that. Because I knew myself, and I knew that, I was the same person spiritually with or without having that coffee past 40 days. Maybe a bit more emotionally unstable, and cranky, and sleepy, lol ..... But, basically the same person, nonetheless. I had conditioned myself into the concept of "Giving up" worldly habits to God for Lent, but I still wasn’t making room for my spiritual growth. That's when I realized how important having my own personal relationship with God really is. So, when fasting season came around, I tried to train myself to think of it more as, what am I "Letting go" of as opposed to what am I "Giving Up" ?? ......... Giving up made me feel like I was making empty sacrifices. Letting go made me feel like was releasing something back into the universe, and I wanted to not only better myself and my connection to God, but I wanted to also add value to the space around me in the process. I allowed myself the option to still not partake in coffee, or candy, or maybe even sodas or alcohol, but I also made sure that I was focusing on other habits such as speaking negatively, or working on my anger, giving back to my community, and simply learning to be more grateful. Instead of me simply abstaining from social media, I wanted to rethink my presence there. This included fasting from posting and spreading negative vibes, getting involved in unproductive debates, and unfollowing people who I didn't necessary align with. What we intake is just as important as what we output, this includes what we invite on our timelines, as well as what we invite on our televisions. I wanted to make sure that through my fasting experience, I was not only abstaining from what’s unhealthy for my body, but I was filling myself up with what nurtures my spirit, and putting it back out into the universe. What are some alternative methods that you can incorporate into your fasting routine? How can you make your physical sacrifices better connect to your spiritual? And are you just bettering yourself, or are you contributing the positive energy back into your surroundings? These are just some questions to ask yourself as you maneuver your way through this year's transformations. From Lent, to spring cleaning, to all the planetary retrogrades happening around us, now is the time to be the change you want to see.
See you guys on the other side, lol