I gave up chocolate for Lent. I know, I know – it doesn’t get more cliche than that. But hear me out: chocolate is not just a daily ritual, for me it’s more like an hourly ritual. I cannot remember a day without chocolate. That’s just how entrenched my chocolate ritual is. So this is a big sacrifice. A cliche, albeit big sacrifice; a constant reminder that I need to pray for help.
But I’ve been thinking about a few other patterns that may need changing. I’ve been thinking that the cross I need to take up is cheerfulness. I’m not the most morose person ever, just often unwilling to let go of my miseries, my deep thinking, my spiritual groveling to be cheerful around others. Perhaps now more than ever, as we’re fasting, we need to choose cheerfulness for ourselves.
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:16-18
At least I know I do. It doesn’t have to be overbearing bubbliness – just a lighthearted cheer – a way for others not to have to walk on eggshells, to worry about your sanity, to carry your load. When I am in a bad mood and my husband is joyful and lighthearted, it helps me break out my self-imposed misery. It is such a blessing to me when others are cheerful, so perhaps this lent I’ll choose the way of cheerfulness.
What are your Lenten practices?