Column: Just what to stop for Lent?

The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster
The Ven Michael Everitt, Archdeacon of Lancaster

'So, what have you given up for Lent?’ If I had a pound for each time I was asked that, a charity I support would be very grateful indeed ... well I couldn’t personally benefit from such a question, could I?

Perhaps it’s people subtly telling me I need to diet and exercise more!
Every Ash Wednesday (the start of Lent which occurred yesterday) creates the same tussle for me. Childhood memories of giving up chocolate and biscuits.
Each biscuit eaten in Lent meant a Sunday when I couldn’t have one. Sundays are not counted in Lenten fasts, except in my family where they acted as the ‘wriggle room’ for failure in the week.
Sadly I fell so many times back then that I probably can never eat a biscuit on a Sunday again!
Equally Jesus told us not to make a public show of fasting, so perhaps I should keep it quiet. However, keeping something so quiet that we don’t tell ourselves or do it, doesn’t count.
So what to give up. A fast is to concentrate the mind, body and soul. It is to try to take away the distractions in life.
So apps are been removed from the phone. Those boxes still unpacked from our move seven years ago are to be targeted. Snacking and second helpings are to go. (The list is quite long.)
The truth is that Lent for me is a time to seek to grow up.
Through the course of the year, I become more childish. Grabbing excuses and self-justification as if they are sweets that are on sale.
This Lent I seek once more to take responsibility for all I am and do. Rather than it being a negative time, it should be one where I’m set free from the quagmire I sink into through daily life and to step on a more secure path.
So how about you? What are you going to do this Lent to let yourself grow up, be free and start again?
Together we can change both ourselves and the world.
Let’s give up distractions, excuses, destructive thoughts, words and actions.
Then we will be ready to learn what Easter is about when it comes.