Written by Maci Sepp. Media by Jack Dawdy.
Last week marked the end of Easter, one of the most recognized holidays of the Christian calendar. Leading up to this day of remembrance and prayer, Christians are encouraged to take part in their own form of sacrifice
during Lent. As a member of a Christian institution, my fellow peers and I were eager to partake in our share. Now I may not be the most educated or knowledgeable when it comes to traditions, but I knew that this year, I felt the desire to participate and forgo something in my life that held importance. I had never seriously take part in Lent, but I was more than willing to experience it for myself. Prior to Ash Wednesday, I thought long and hard about what I would relinquish. So at the start of this year’s Lent season, I embarked on what I believed was a long, treacherous journey of sacrifice and redemption: giving up coffee.
Within the first few days, I found that giving up something for Lent is much easier said than done. I never realized how much I depended on a morning cup of Joe to get me through the day until I was sitting in my 8:30 class struggling to keep my eyes from drooping. As the day progressed, I could feel myself drifting further and further into exhaustion while I tried to recall a time when my life did not rely on my caffeine consumption. And being the foolish college student that I am, I made no attempt to make it any easier on myself. I had just started the habit of sitting in Jo’s Java to sit down and work on homework a few days each week, and I found this routine helped my productivity. What I failed to recognize was how much that productivity thrived on the sweet smell of freshly ground coffee beans and warmed up cinnamon rolls. So I continued the next six weeks sitting in the far back corner typing away at emails and term papers, trying to remove myself from the plethora of delicious scents that surrounded me. Gradually, it became more bearable, and I grew accustomed to ordering my daily mug of ice water.
The early mornings were still draining and the late nights finishing assignments were a bit of a struggle, but I managed to make it through in one piece. I found other ways to keep my spirit alive, such as going on long walks, spending more time on devotionals, and taking the occasional catnap. As a result, my body became more resilient without the need for coffee and my wallet grew thicker. I realize this may not be the greatest feat of all time, but it was a small victory in the Maci-verse. And yet, a part of me still feels lacking. I never spent 40 days and nights alone fasting in the middle of a desert and refuting the temptation of Satan; all I did was give up something that Americans are obsessed over and sell at every street corner. While we may celebrate our Easter Sunday prancing around in pastels, hunting for Easter eggs, and overdosing on chocolate bunnies, we often forget how meager and insignificant our lives actually are in comparison to the big picture. We spend six weeks giving up our worldly possessions and labeling it as sacrifice as if it is at all comparable to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We have never felt such pain and suffering, and because of Him, we never will. For that alone we are undeserving of His infinite and unconditional love.
My “big” sacrifice may seem rather pathetic, but I plan to take on a new mindset and new means of celebrating Lent. Since giving up anything is usually difficult and induces unnecessary anger and complaining, I want to do something that lightens my mood and hinders my inner diva. Aside from making my individual sacrifice, I want to dedicate time to thank others for their sacrifices on my behalf. Whether it’s sending a note to a charitable professor or purchasing a thoughtful gift for a patient friend, I am excited to give back a small portion of what others have done for me. Lent isn’t simply about giving up Earthly treasures; it’s about honoring the actions of Christ and showing gratitude for the grace He has bestowed on us out of utter compassion and love.