Okay, maybe not that severe, but it was still a surprise when I announced that I would give up chocolate for Lent this year.
If you know me well at all, you'll know I passionately love chocolate,
as evidenced here...
... and here...
... and here!
I love eating chocolate and making chocolate. I love visiting chocolate stores and trying chocolate desserts in restaurants. We had a chocolate fountain at our wedding, leaving my bridal party to wrap my voluminous white gown with large serviettes to protect me from dark chocolate drips.
It's actually been years since I've given up anything for Lent. In recent years, I've joined the trend of "taking up." Sometimes it's been a Bible study, or reaching out to old friends, or a songwriting project.
But this year is different.
This year, we have no home church.
When we made the decision to tour full time, it meant a lot of changes to our lives. We left our home church of 4 years, including our wonderful small group, and moved out of Toronto to lower our living expenses. We've been blessed with a lot of travel in the past year, but all that travel has meant very few Sundays in our new city. Even though we've visited a few churches, we haven't been around enough to make a commitment to any of them.
Even last year, we were at All Saints Church in St. Andrew's, NB, for Ash Wednesday and part of Lent.
Worship planning has been a huge part of our Lenten journey over the past few years. Through our weekly meetings with church staff, song planning, psalm writing, and playing with our band, we've been deeply involved in the season that is Lent. We've sat in its themes of silence, repentance, and transformation. We've written and played music that, Sunday by Sunday, brings us along the epic path from Lent to Holy Week to the glory of Easter morning.
Without that home church presence, things are different this year. Last week, Ash Wednesday caught me by surprise. I realized that without a home church, it would be too easy for Lent to pass me by. I'm currently spending my days booking our upcoming East Coast Tour. "Taking up" for Lent would only add to my busyness, and would be too easy to drop as we get closer to the tour.
"So," I thought, "let's give something up." It had to be something significant. If the idea was to keep Lent in the forefront of my mind, it had to be something that was part of my daily routine. I didn't want it to be something that would negatively affect my productivity (no, I'm not giving up espresso!!), but something that I would miss. It needed to be something I enjoy. I wanted it to feel like a loss, an empty space to remind me that this is a season of letting go.
Chocolate became the obvious choice.
Not the desired choice, but the obvious one.
It's been a week, and it's working. I haven't had any chocolate, but I've certainly missed it. I put together a non-chocolate dessert last week and Gerald asked, "Um, does this mean I'm giving up chocolate for Lent too?" I laughed and offered to buy him some chocolate covered almonds this week.
No, this is my simple journey. I want to be aware of this season of holiness. I want to be reminded of the dangers of excess and the power of simplicity. I want to be aware of how blessed we are to live in such abundance, and how there are so many in this world who desperately need the basics. I want to be reminded that when we have less stuff, we can open up more space for peace, listening, loving, and creating.
So, even though it may seem like a trivial choice to some, for me, giving up chocolate actually has the potential to bring me closer to God. And that's worth more than gold, or chocolate!
What are you giving up or taking up for Lent?
Please share in the Comments below!
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