This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, that prompts the usual question, “what am I giving up for lent?”
Common items to give up for those 46 days include social media, TV, and food. And of course you don’t give up food entirely, it’s usually sodas, dessert, bread, added sugars, or foods deemed as unnecessary (aka “junk”). This year, I want to challenge giving up food for lent.
At any given time, half of Americans are attempting weight loss by dieting. Our culture is in constant pursuit of weight loss, which, makes sense given that we glorify smaller bodies and vilify larger bodies – mistakenly so , by the way. I am not convinced that anyone could separate giving up food for lent and their desire for weight loss. And it’s not because they don’t love the Lord enough, but because we are all knee-deep in diet culture. Diet culture has made dieting, wellness, and body aesthetics into idols.
That being said, how authentic can giving up sugar for lent in the name of worship be?
I know how emotional eating can feel, perhaps you genuinely feel as though you turn to sugar (or other foods) automatically, rather than turning to the Father. But I don’t think that’s a heart or faith issue – I believe that to be a result of diet and wellness culture. What if I told you healing your relationship with food, body, and exercise could be one of the most beautiful and vulnerable acts of worship. Hear me out – I have given dessert up for lent countless times, never seeing it through for the 46 days. Why? Because our bodies, intentionally and beautifully designed by the Father, were not created to diet. Giving up sweets in the name of lent / a-little-bit-of-hope-we-lose-some-weight-or-become-“healthier” is a diet. Dieting disconnects us from our innate, God given hunger and fullness cues, God given cravings, God given taste buds, God given purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declared the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” That future is in paradise with Him – where scales, measuring cups, and MyFitnessPal do not exist!
Lent is about lamenting, and drawing nearer to our Father as his broken children. Lent is for recognizing what pulls you away from Him. Sugar is not pulling you away from God. French fries are not distracting you from being in the word. Soda is not the heart issue that prevents you from knowing Him more. It’s diet culture.
What would it look like to give up weighing yourself, counting calories, your good food / bad food list for lent?
How would lent feel different if instead we asked, “what is a barrier to me pursuing Christ more completely, more fervently , or more honestly?”
This lenten season, I am challenging you to bring your relationship with food, exercise, and body to Jesus. His love for you is so deep – it’s unwavering and unchanging, nothing can separate you from His perfect love (Romans 8:35-37).