So: Lent is upon us. Yesterday was Shrove Tuesday (aka pancake day) making today Ash Wednesday, when the question once more rears its ugly head: what to give up for Lent?
Not that I have to, you understand: it’s just that in the past I have found it useful. I have weaned myself off things or changed my relationship with obsessions or simply improved my health by elbowing, say, TV or Facebook or dairy. But this year the idea of renunciation made me feel really fed up.
And this, I think, is because I’ve given up so much already. I avoid dairy because of my allergic rhinitis; we haven’t had TV for years because it costs too much; I’ve recently given up Facebook for a couple of months, we don’t have a car, I don’t drink much, and so on. So the idea of giving up yet another thing did not sit well with me. And I began to think, how does this work for people who have already given up so much? How does it work for the homeless and the dispossessed; how does it work for those who already have so little that to expect them to give something else up would be an insult?
So I decided to approach this differently. Really, Lent is not about hair shirts or self-mortification; it’s not about self-flagellation or humiliation. It’s about letting go of things which hold you back. And the thing that’s holding me back at the moment is self-doubt.
So there’s the answer. I’m giving up self-doubt for Lent.
At least I think I am…