I didn't grow up Catholic, therefore I was ever taught the concept of giving up something for the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. After marrying Gary, who grew up Catholic, I found out quickly all about the "giving up" along with eating fish on Fridays during Lent.
Honestly, the fish on Fridays doesn't bother me, but when I tried giving up peanut butter for that period of time....well, the going got rough! But, as a family (now adding children when they were old enough to understand), we decided to individually give up something we truly enjoyed in order that a sacrifice might be made. At times I wonder if the emphasis of the "giving up" is overshadowed as a rote practice while the reason behind the sacrifice not given a full explanation.
Personally, why give up anything if it's just for the period between Ash Wednesday and Sunday morning? Shouldn't we be continually displaying our lives as "living sacrifices" in honor of what Christ did and continues to do for us? Now, don't misunderstand, I know a lot of individuals who are still carrying out this tradition. However, instead of chocolates, peanut butter, ice cream, or as my father-in-law used to give up...watermelon, why not make a commitment to read your Bible daily? How about spend time in prayer each morning? Or do something for the unfortunate? Why not think outside the box this year and do something that will benefit others?
In fact, my Protestant friends, let's all make a commitment to do something that will honor the King of Kings and be a blessing in our own lives! God bless!
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:2 (NLT)