“Whatchu giving up this year?” Katlyn asked me.
“Huh?” I asked. I blinked my eyes for clarity. “Am I supposed to be giving something up? Clearly, I was puzzled.
“Uh, yeah! It’s Lent, girl!” she shouted. “Mardi Gras is over, so now everybody has to give up something.” She looked at me as if I was the dumbest being on Planet Earth.
That was my freshman year of college in Louisiana. My family is from the Pelican State and since I was 11 or so, I’d gone to New Orleans for Bayou Classic every year. I’d spent summers in my cousin, Brandon’s, room while he tried to explain what Master P meant when he said he was “Bout it Bout it.” I walked the country roads of my Daddy’s hometown to the Chicken Shack for dinner because the nearest McDonald’s was two towns away. I’d even been to Mardi Gras. But I ain’t never heard of giving up something for Lent.
A few weeks into the semester, I figured out that most black folks there were Catholic, instead of Baptist like me. I didn’t understand it, growing up in Memphis, the birthplace of the Church of God in Christ denomination. I’d gone to church with my Catholic roommates so much, I knew what a rosary was, exactly when to kneel for prayer during Mass and to pass on the wine during communion (they drink from the same cup.). I was a pro in the game, but still, I didn’t know you had to give something up. Why?
No one told me what Lent was really about. Why it started after Mardi Gras. Why you had to do without something you really thought you couldn’t go without for 40 days. All I knew was every year, someone would give up sex, drinking or profanity and fail miserably. Fish was served every Friday in the cafeteria, and I thought that sucked. Hell, I wasn’t Catholic! Where’s the meat?
It wasn’t until I moved back home that I understood what it meant to sacrifice during the Lenten season. Unlike my old (and deceased) pastor, the new pastor focused on Lent to build up to Easter. He began to challenge us to sacrifice something we consider a habit or craving, in hopes that we can get closer to God and hear His voice, if and when He speaks to us. Can we really have intimate time with Him if we’re always on Blackberrys and iPhones, the Internet, eating, drinking, having sex and clubbing?
It all started to make sense to me. I wanted to commit to the sacrifice, but every year, I let the opportunity pass me by. So that brings me to my point: I have to figure out what I’m giving up.
I’m already three days in, so I need to make a decision…like today, maybe. Let’s go over my options:
I spend way too much time on here….See, I’m on now! It’s a distraction, but I need it for work. Next…
I talk. A lot. Probably more than I write, unfortunately. There’s plenty to discuss, but mostly, I’m joking around and bs’ing. Venting sessions with my friends are must, but then again, that’s what I have God and my journal for. Possibly, I could cut that out. Between the hours of 6-10?
I heart the Idiot Box. Anyone who knows me knows I live to watch Martin reruns and reality television. I love movies that come on Encore and shows like True Blood and Nip/Tuck, but I swear with every episode, my brain cells are burning out. I need to get a grip.
Which will it be? What days and hours will I do? I’m too much of a rookie to go cold turkey on anything immediately. It’s all about the baby steps. What are you giving up, if anything and why?