Friday, March 21, 2014

Week Twelve – Don’t give up on Lent!

It was last Sunday morning when I heard our priest say “Don’t give up on Lent” as I sat on the third row of our church listening to his sermon.

Finger licking good!
 And no truer words could have come my way that day! I don’t usually attend church on Sundays, I’ve never been a devoted catholic, like my mother was, and I think it was her devotion and years of having to be subjected to attend every Sunday that drove me away from the church. However, I remain connected to the faith through my wife and children and I try to support them as much as I can with this. And after my week of being in hospital and having suffered a relapse in my routine life, I thought I would accompany them and sit there listening to mass and the Sunday sermon, which I often enjoy at Christmas (the one time a year I go to church) because of the interesting messages behind it.

This is not a religious blog so please don’t stop reading; and before I talk to you about why I chose the statement “Don’t give up on Lent” for this week’s blog, let me give you some background information which will help you make the connection.

For those of you who are not catholic or are like me not sure what Lent means, as far as I understand this is the period in which people are asked to give something up for Jesus who suffered for us. At a catholic school, which my kids go to, they teach children the principles of this event and the moral meaning behind it. I also think it is an interesting period which teaches them to understand self control and will power as well as honesty and integrity to keep your promises. In other words, if you say you will do something you stick to it (albeit for Jesus), and don’t lie or cheat and use your self-endurance to get through it! Not a bad learning period for the formation of a young person. We have been doing “giving something up for Lent” in our household for a few years now and every year as a family each of us chose something to give up and we support each other through this period. It is worth mentioning here that it is a total of 40 days where you scarify this pleasure. Also whatever it is that you give up, has got to be something which is important or especial on your life, something you really like and normally can’t do without (otherwise there’s no point!, you’ve got to suffer for it). For those devoted Catholics reading this blog, please forgive for giving a very brief and practical overview of Lent, I’m sure there is more to it and those interested to learn more please feel free to Google it!

So now we all know (sort of) what Lent is, the other part I need you to understand is related to the “what” as a family we wanted to give up this year. Unusually, we all decided to give up the same thing, providing each other with extra support over the next 40 days, bring us together as a family, a “Family Lent commitment” if you like. So we sat at the kitchen table and we brainstormed what we all liked as a family that would be good to give up for Lent. And yes, if you know the Snyders well enough, you would have guessed we decided to give up our weekly family trip to the local KFC! My family has adopted my addiction to Kentucky Fried Chicken taste, and we have our routine trip every week to the local KFC restaurant where we order the same thing every time and enjoy our “finger licking good” moment together. So it was set, we would, as a family, give up KFC for Lent. As an FYI; Lent began two weeks ago and runs for the next forty days.

Now, you would think this was an easy task, right? It is only once a week, Lent is 40 days, take 40 divided by 7; we just have to be away from KFC for 5 weeks. No problem…. But here is where I make the connection to the statement “Don’t give up for Lent”. Unfortunately, just one week into the 40 days of Lent, on the Saturday, my son was away with a friend, my daughter had a friend round for a sleep over, my wife did not feel like cooking that night and so we decided to go out and eat… but what? This was the first weekend we cannot have KFC, so where do we go for a quick bite? We don’t like Burgers, we don’t want to sit at a restaurant, and we are not into Indian take always, what to do? And yes, you may have guessed it right, we failed and went over the KFC! We felt so bad… it was a feeble moment and we felt for it! We had now broken our promises and given up on Lent! Oh well, we had been good other years, surely everyone is allowed one time not to follow Lent! I’m sure we will be forgiven… eventually!  When our son found out, he was flabbergasted we had done it and said “well I’m not giving up” which was a good lesson for us.

So we felt bad we had given up our promise for Lent. Being adults and matured beings we thought, “you know what, we broke it now, so that’s that, next year we’ll stick to it” this was a wicked way of saying “we failed so let’s carry on and eat KFC at the weekends!”.

And it was that Sunday morning when the epiphany came along, the sermon of our priest hit me right between the eyes as he said “Lent is a time for giving up something, some of you out there have made that commitment and are sticking to it, other may have not chosen not to do anything because you thought it as too much hard work to stick to it and some of you may have started really well with all good intentions to keep your promise, then something happened and you give up. But Lent is about not giving up and if you’ve failed to stick to your promise, go back to it, start again and most importantly, don’t give up on Lent” and at this moment I knew it was not just giving up KFC, but we should not give up on us as a family.

For me this message was more than just a religious guilt trip for not sticking to doing Lent. It is about not giving up on things, not giving up on anything you do. So often we find ourselves quitting because we failed to complete something or we could not be bothered to finish it or just simply because we thought we don’t have the will power to stick to it. Think about it? How many of us have given up on our dreams because we thought, “it will never come true” Did you give up on being an Astronaut, Fire Fighter, a Doctor or a Singer? Perhaps it was too hard, or we didn’t focus enough to do it. How many times have we given up on something we wanted to do because we thought we didn’t have the will power to do it? Diets, giving up smoking, keep going to the gym. How many times have we given up on someone, because we think they will not make it or don’t have the ability to do something? How many times in our lives we keep on giving up just because it was the easier option?

This “epiphany” made me realised that no one should ever give up on “Lent”. We all have the opportunity to get back onto it, whatever it was we gave up on, to not give up and try again. After the blog, take time and reflect on “what” you may have given up, remember, there is still time to pick up where you left off and no more KFC for us for 4 weeks!

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