Could you imagine going six weeks without your favorite time filler, such as Facebook and Instagram or even giving up your morning Starbucks drink? How about not eating meat for 40 days?
For some people in the world, this is their reality and lasts for about six weeks in the month of March leading into April. This is because of the season called Lent.
Lent is a religious observance starting 40 days before Easter. Its original context calls for people to reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made for the world and to draw them closer to God.
“I think that you are suppose to gain a closer relationship with Christ,” said Holly Hamby, a member of the Christian Student Center at the U of M. “If you are giving up fast food, the main point is that when you are yearning for that, you use that time to yearn for Christ.”
However, not everyone participates for the same reasons. Some view this as a new type of New Years resolution, hoping to only gain a physical benefit.
“In the past, I have started diets during the Lent Season, because, during Lent, there is an added support to not give in,” said Lenzy Hopkins, resident of the Orange Mound community.
“It reflects an understanding that’s different from mine. From my perspective, I think it’s sort of a shallow understanding. It would be similar to saying that Easter is about eggs and bonnets,” said Rick Pinkston, director of the Wesley Foundation at the U of M.
Others within the religious community view people who participate for reasons outside of getting closer to God or reflecting on the story of Jesus as a unique way for God to be glorified.
“My opinion is that Christ died for them, too. That Christ poured his life for them, too,” said Jonathan Woodall, the director for the Christian Student Center at the U of M. “I think Paul says in the New Testament whether they are doing it to glorify Christ or for selfish gain, God will be glorified.”
Historically, Lent was a time when people would sacrifice different foods, but it has evolved into giving up or even adding to your life anything that would be a true sacrifice for the individual.
For each person, this can be drastically different.
“It is a personal thing, some people give up coffee, alcohol, video games, certain foods, etc.,” said Nathan Billings, a senior biology major at the U of M and member of the Catholic Student Organization.
Repentance, reflection and overall focusing on God are all things that the traditional view of Lent looks to bring to an individual.
However, for some Christians, it is just a slice of the bigger pie.
“In many ways, each person is asked to constantly remember Christ in their lives, and experience times of repentance and confession daily,” Woodall said.
Woodall believes that Lent is not the only time that a person should focus on God, sacrifice things or repent. It should not last for a season but more of a lifestyle that gives glory to God.