Doing Lent differently

I’ve never been one for giving up things for Lent, because I didn’t understand the point. Someone once told me it was to emulate Jesus’ 40 days of preparation. Really? We emulate Jesus’ preparation for the cross by giving up coffee or chocolate? Really?

For a long time, I’ve seen giving things up for Lent as a half-task way of sorta kinda fasting but not really because real fasting would be too hard.

In our Ash Wednesday worship, the pastor challenged us to observe these days “with prayer and fasting,” and that is a huge deal to me. His sermon was on the seven deadly sins, and he urged us to give up one of them for Lent.

Get your ash in church ash wednesday lent

Photo by Old Lutheran

Not all. He warned. You can’t give them all up at once. It’s too hard. Just one.

Here they are:

  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Anger
  • Envy
  • Pride

So I prayed over this list during the sermon, as if I needed to. I knew before I walked in the building which one I most need to work on.

Pride? Yeah, I’ve wrestled with that one. It snuck up on me because I thought I was pretty honest about my limitations, but the writing of Alara’s Call revealed a Pride problem in my character that I could trace right back to the author.

Anger I spend many years working through, by diligent application of Scripture and the work of the Holy Spirit. When I look back on how poorly I used to manage my anger, it’s embarrassing. It’s mostly under control, now, but I’m—dare I say it—humble enough to know I’m only one more dropped Internet connection away from totally losing it. I mean, how many times can a router drop a signal in one day? You’d think—

Ahem. Where was I?

Lust, Greed, Sloth, Envy—I struggle with them as much as anyone does. They are definitely on my list of things to be addressed. But before I go there, there’s another bad boy I have to deal with.


Have I not confessed it a hundred times? Maybe a thousand. At least once, right here. In my Bible study class. Among my Health and Wellness accountability group. I reached Step One: I am willing to admit I have a problem.

But what am I doing about it? Apart from beating myself up, not a whole lot.

Until now. I am giving up Gluttony. Not just for Lent, although this is the start of it. I know from my battle with Anger that this will take a while. Probably a long while, because I love food. And unlike other addictive substances, food isn’t a thing you can give up cold turkey. That would not produce the desired result.

While I’m not literally fasting—I know myself well enough to know that if I go without, even for half a day, I’ll binge when I do eat—I’m going to be mindful about whether I’m eating because I’m hungry or whether I’m just eating because I enjoy it.

This will be a long road. It will take more than 40 days. It will likely take several years. But I know I don’t have to do it—in fact, I can’t do it—under my own power. This is going to take the power of the Holy Spirit in me.

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.— Romans 14:17

About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

2 comments on “Doing Lent differently

  1. Kristen,
    If you are looking for help with this, I have a few that will help. I prayed fervently for help here as I struggled too. Since June, I have lost 60 pounds and it is all due to God’s intervention. I ended up with numerous food allergies and a leaky gut, which I feel the Lord used to help me lose 60 pounds so far, 50 of them since June of last year. Three things have helped tremendously: apple cider vinegar in warm water—gives you good minerals and sustenance, it really calms the appetite. It is my breakfast each morning. Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid—-don’t use canola or seed or veggie oils anymore. And the Paleo diet plan or any version of it. Coconut oil satisfies your task buds and appetite, making it easier to pass on those sweets and such. With the Lord’s help, this has been the easiest weight-loss I have ever experienced, and I have thyroid issues and have been on every diet out there.
    Blessings and I hope you have great success,
    Laura A.

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