I remember the first time I ever heard of the season of Lent. I was a Sr. in high school and had been going to church for just a few months. Less than a month before, I think, was when I accepted Christ, so much of what I was learning was new to me.
I wasn’t really aware of lent until it was over that year. My pastor had talked about giving up soda during lent, which really didn’t mean anything to me because I didn’t know what Lent was. On Easter Sunday he brought a can of Coke with him and drank it at some point during the service. For a few years after that I knew Lent as a time to give up something we liked because Easter was coming.
As my understanding of Lent grew, I eventually began to associate it with the Passion, crucifixion and resurrection. However, for me it was still mostly a time of self-sacrifice. I mean self-sacrifice in the most selfish sense, too. My friends and I would compete to see who could go the longest without soda, or internet time, or something else that was deemed an appropriately difficult sacrifice. For a couple of years I was giving up food and water from 9:00am to sundown. One year I gave up meat (my wife wasn’t a big fan of that!)
If I wasn’t using Lent for bragging rights, I was using it to lose weight. I was giving up pop mostly because I knew it wasn’t good for me and I could stand to lose a few pounds. How’s that for really getting into the spirit??