Human rights activist and blogger Amy has already had to give up a lot this year. Now she’s decided to give up one more habit for Lent – swearing. She tells us how a broken down car and a serendipitous sermon helped strengthen her resolve to take on the #GiveItUpChallenge.
If I am honest I don’t normally give anything up for Lent. A number of years back I heard a sermon about how you could try and take something up for Lent instead giving something up, so that year I decided to pray in my car instead of listening to the radio. I honestly had the most amazing 40 days and felt so close to God by the end of it.
However, as I was musing about this challenge over the last week or so I realised that I hadn’t just taken something up, I had in fact given something up as well, I just hadn’t consciously done so! I had given up listening to the radio and it has taken me best part of 15 years to consider the fact that maybe this was a fruitful 40 days for me in part because of my giving up, not just my taking up.
I have up until now felt a little smug as I watch people giving things up, due to my secret “wisdom” that you should in fact be taking something up. However, God has graciously humbled me just before the start of my challenge, for which I am thankful.
Still haven’t picked something to give up for Lent? It’s never too late – take the CAFOD Lent quiz for inspiration!
God pointed me towards what to give up this Lent
To decide what to give up I really had to dig deep. Due to a recent diagnosis of arthritis I have started a new, slightly gruelling, diet of giving up alcohol, caffeine, gluten and dairy. This didn’t really leave me with many food options to pick from!
However, God pointed me in the right direction. Swearing is a habit that I am a little too good at and what is more, I am very clever about how I do it. I never, ever swear in front of my Christian friends (I am somewhat mortified at them reading this to be honest) but quite happily do so in front of friends who aren’t.
What kind of testimony is this? How am I walking the walk and “talking the talk” of Christ? Badly I think is the answer and I am ashamed that I have never made more effort to give up this vice.
Giving up swearing for Lent? Why not keep motivated by dropping a pound (or any amount you’re comfortable with) in a swear jar each time you slip up. Donate it to our Lent appeal
40 days, 40 challenges
One of the things that I have been pondering in my preparation for this challenge, between frantically making school lunches and my tardy, breathless, red-faced appearances at the school gates (maybe I should have given up being late!) is the 40 day aspect to it. I have never really thought about the 40 days bit, just the pancake bit and the Ash Wednesday bit. However, something happened to me at the start of the year that has helped me to at last appreciate this length of time.
Just after New Year we broke down on a car journey visiting family. To cut a long story short it took 40 very frustrating days to get it fixed and back home. In that time I got annoyed, fed up, impatient, stressed and irritable. The constant phone calls and chasing people became such a drama (a first world drama I know but a drama nevertheless).
So I took to tweeting my complaints and each one of these started with, “Day 15, Day 26, Day 32” and so on. The amount of time it was taking seemed important to me and it was the thing that angered me the most. When it arrived back home on day 40 I actually hugged the bonnet and gave it a kiss to make my daughter laugh. Even she knew it had been a long time!
What are you giving up or taking on this Lent? Let us know on Twitter using #GiveItUpChallenge
Jesus’ 40 days of fasting
So when one of our pastors spoke of the importance of fasting on Sunday, the very next day, I really sat up and listened because one of the things he spoke of was the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting. I knew Jesus fasted for 40 days and I knew how He was tempted and my brain told me it was a long time, but my heart didn’t feel that it was a long time because it’s not a measure of time I have ever used. But in my small first world way I now know what those days ticking by feel like and I realise that;
- I am even more humbled by Jesus and the path He walked than usual
- The next 40 days are going to be long and probably hard but at the end of them I will find myself hugging Jesus and giving Him a kiss, and not just to make my daughter smile
Amy writes a blog which raises awareness for issues of human rights whilst encouraging us to think about how we can go about tackling these problems in our everyday lives. You can visit her blog at www.letsruntherace.com