LENT REFLECTIONS: Self-Denial & Consumption

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Happy first day of Lent (if you partake in that practice)
and happy middle of the week (for my non-Lenten-warriors.)

*I’m writing this on Wednesday evening.*

You might not catch me in church every Sunday morning, but I was raised in the Christian tradition (& close enough to New Orleans where the pre-Lent festivities roulez like no other) to be an avid participant in the practice of Lent.

Lent, for me, is not something I choose to observe for religious reasons so much as for spiritual & worldly reasons.
Translation: it’s less about my relationship with a religious entity & more about my relationship with myself and how that relationship gets reflected into the world.

According to Wikipedia, Lent is a time during which… “many Christians commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries in order to replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days.”

In this same article, Wikipedia uses the term “self-denial” which I resonate with deeply in terms of my spiritual and worldly connections to Lent.

“Self-denial” is the heart of the Lenten practice for me.

This season is about denying our “selves” our selfish pleasures, mindless habits, and making what’s actually the ultimate sacrifice: our selfishness.

Accompanying this idea of “self-denial” then is the heightened awareness around consumption— what we consume in all ways.

This is particularly intriguing to me on the physical health + wellness front, as well as the mental/spiritual side.

For lots of people, Lent becomes a season of “dieting,” and— in a sense— that’s sort of right on track with the biblical story.

Jesus’s diet was certainly drastically altered during his 40-day desert stint, and coupled with our current culture’s obsession with our bodies & the way we look, it makes sense that many of us trend towards altering our diets during the season of Lent.

But I think it’s worth considering the concept of “dieting” in a broader sense, like the term consumption. The term “diet” refers mainly to what we eat, whereas "consumption” encompasses both what + how, and it also extends well beyond what we’re putting into our mouths.

Consumption includes everything you consume and every way in which you are consuming.

For me, this ranges from my email subscriptions to my social media indulgences, the conversations I participate in and the podcasts I listen to, when I eat and when I read, how I digest videos and content on a daily basis.

This Lenten season, I’m focusing simply on my consumption rather than just my diet. Of course, naturally that pertains to food, but I’m also heightening my awareness around the content and media (books, articles, subscriptions, videos, conversations, images) that I consume.

This involves a great deal of self-denial.

I will deny my self the shallow, instant gratification of checking my social media immediately upon waking up.

I will deny my self the Intermittent Hershey’s kisses and Starbursts throughout my day.

I will deny my self the brain-cluttering, anxiety-inducing, automatic tendency to open my email app before I open my heart & mind to what the gift of this one & only day is.

I wanna know: in what ways are you denying yourself this season?
How are you focusing on consumption?

Reply to this email whenever you get a chance & put that energy out into the Universe. I’d love to hear from you & be along for your Lenten journey since you’re here for mine. ;)

Have a great THURSDAY!

-emily