I gave up Diet Coke for Lent. I love Diet Coke, but I’m getting too old to be chugging 2-3 cans a day. I have my bones to think about (rumor: Diet Coke leaches calcium from your bones) and my muffin top is becoming a problem (rumor: aspartame makes us crave more sweets). I don’t know if any of this is true, but one thing is: I am addicted to Diet Coke, so Lent seems like the perfect time to give it up.
Or is it? I don’t know. Does this sacrifice make me more spiritually reflective or is it a way to jump-start a new health regiment that I can’t seem to start otherwise?
For several days, “what are you giving up for Lent?” has been a hot topic with my friends. One friend is giving up sugar, another is giving up drinking, another — chocolate. My youngest daughter, Caroline, proclaimed she is giving up Mountain Dew, even though she’s never had it. My older daughter is giving up sugary foods allowing her the debatable exemption of milk shakes. My husband claimed he was giving up “doing the laundry” and then quickly added, “Although, I think I might have given that up already” – yeah, so funny, isn’t he?
I still don’t honestly know the specifics on why we give things up for Lent. I’m not Catholic. My kids have been asking me why, even as they talk about what they’re giving up with all of their friends. Since I’m always a bit general with my answers to religious questions, I googled. Turns out eHow has several pages on how to observe Lent. Who knew?
According to eHow, we give things up to symbolize the “40 day period of fasting and purification leading up to Easter.” This seems right, but I can’t lose the visual of Jesus in the wilderness after 30 days, on his hands and knees, parched. He looks up and sees the devil leaning against a tree with a can of Diet Coke in his fiery hand. Pfsssst! “Ahhhhh,” says Satan as he chugs it, bubbles dribbling down his chin.
Yahoo!Answers had a lot of interesting insight on why we give things up for Lent including this contributor who gave me pause: “a misconception…is to give up soda or candy. This essentially spits in the face of the idea of sacrifice. Sacrifice something that is difficult for you, like pornography…”
All right, I know it’s all symbolic, and I know this is what matters, even though all the women around me seem to be giving up things that might help them lose weight. I shouldn’t judge what deepens any one’s spirituality as this goes against the very grain of being spiritual. And I will say this: ever since Wednesday (two long days ago), I have been thinking of Jesus — a lot — because oh, dear Jesus, do I want a Diet Coke.