Thrive!
By Anne Simpkinson

Lenten Sacrifice as Personal Growth

I know some people who are, instead of giving something up this Lent, taking something up. Patty Kirk, author of A Field Guide to God: A Seeker’s Manual, for example, offered five things to do instead of sacrificing chocolate, wine, sweets, soda.

I, however, stuck with my previous Lenten sacrifice of TV. It was a matter of taking on a difficult challenge while hoping that I would be able to refocus my life a bit.

Let me tell you, it’s been really, really hard. Ash Wednesday was the worst, because that’s the night I am glued to the tube at 8 p.m. to watch a British comedy, Doc Martin. I savor settling in to watch a socially challenged London heart surgeon who has developed a terrible case of hemophobia (fear of blood) treat and interact with the eccentric characters who live in the small fishing community of Port Wenn, in Cornwall. 

Come 9 o’clock, it’s time for BBC America and reruns of the Showtime series The Tudors.

Throughout the week, there are many visual bonbons that I so enjoy indulging in, and which, I’m sad to say, I’ve become addicted to. I know this because in the last week, I’ve felt a physical pull to press the remote’s on button. And I knew it was beyond mere habituation when I caught myself debating whether watching programs on Hulu would be counter to the spirit of my sacrifice. Duh!!

In the end I resisted the temptation, and that’s where the personal growth part kicked in: I feel a real sense of accomplishment. Furthermore, I find myself spending more quality time with the cats, reading, even writing to friends — on paper. I rediscovered the joy of choosing note cards that I think my friends would appreciate and sending off short missives! How quaint, yet satisfying.

So despite the occasional temptation, I’ve found that sacrificing a pleasure surprisingly brings another. 

And who knows? Maybe next year, I’ll not only give up TV again but also devote my evenings to one of the items on Patty Kirk’s list of five things to do in Lent.

Anne Simpkinson is the online managing editor of guideposts.org. She co-authored Soul Work: A Field Guide for Spiritual Seekers and has edited two anthologies entitled Sacred Stories: A Celebration of the Power of Stories to Transform and Heal and Nourishing the Soul: Discovering the Sacred in Everyday Life. A spiritual practice, good friends, lakeside cottage and two lovely feline companions continue to transform and enrich her life. 

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