Catholics and many of the Protestant Christian denominations have a little practice that they do during Lent. to emulate Christ's suffering and giving up of his life for us, we choose something in our lives to "give up" for the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter.
usually, an individual will select something to "give up" which they enjoy but is often not good for them. chocolate. red meat. swearing. fried food. drinking. desserts. [a lot of it tends to be food.] I think sometimes they also hope this will be sortof a mini-diet, but with a religious justification. that way, when someone passes around the plate of brownies they can say "no thanks, I gave chocolate up for Lent" instead of "no thanks, I'm on a diet"
back in my high school days, I used to give up pop [or soda if you prefer]. Diet Coke is one of my weaknesses. but it's not very good for you. this also used to work out well as Lent usually coincides with the start of track season, and drinking pop dehydrates you which is not good for running. I usually would drink one on Easter Sunday then wait until after track season until falling into my addiction again.
I think most people follow the same pattern. they choose a vice to abstain from for 40 days, and then go back to old habits. when you think of it that way, it almost sounds like a cheater's New Year's resolution. instead of giving up something that's bad for you permanently, you take a temporary vacation with moral satisfaction that you are doing something "good".
I'm not saying that 40 days isn't a long time, or that it isn't difficult to give up these things. it is. but wouldn't it be better to, after 40 days, keep going? if you can live that long without french fries, do you really need them? maybe we can use Lent as a stepping stone to clean out our lives of those bad habits we don't need. not just in March and April. but all-year-round.
that being said, I'm not really referring to chocolate anymore. the thing I want to give up, the habit I want to break... is a little more abstract. and a little more toxic. not physically, but emotionally. I'm not really up for full disclosure on this but I will say it has to do with certain person[s] who are not good for my life. and that pesky tendency of mine to hold onto things [sometimes even things that hurt me] longer than I should.
I'm not fooling myself that 40 days without will magically heal me. or make it so I never go back. but it would be a wonderful start to moving on. nearing the halfway point through Lent, I've stuck with it so far. sure, it takes discipline. bad habits are hard to break. but already I can see [and feel] how much better this is for me.