I didn't do much for Lent last year - I am ashamed to say that I didn't even realize it was the season of Lent until it was almost halfway over. I've never been one to participate in a ritual just for the sake of participating in a ritual, but in the past I've found that giving up something for Lent has been a great help for me in my spiritual walk, and I knew I wanted to participate this year. As soon as I decided to do it and started to ponder what I should give up, the answer came to me in a flash. Unfortunately, explaining myself might take a little longer :) Just stick with my, okay?
About two years ago, I really began to think about my food choices, especially when it came to animal flesh. I have always been a little sensitive to animal cruelty - I am told that when I was four I got very upset during The Wizard of Oz when the Wicked Witch said, "I'll get you my pretty...you and your little dog, too!" Not because she threatened Dorothy, but because Toto might be in trouble! Anyhoo, like I said, a few years back I started to really pay attention at the supermarket. I found myself wandering through the meat section, picking up packages of the weekly special and wondering what the real price of the 30 cents per pound savings really was. I could prepare a cheaper meal for my family, which was important for me, but what was the life of that animal like? For awhile, I was able to push those thoughts aside for the sake of saving money - I'd casually walk by the tiny section of "natural" meats and quickly flit away after I saw the prices. It was easy to separate the neatly wrapped packages of skinless, boneless meat from an actual animal. But the thought kept niggling at my brain, and it got to the point where I couldn't deny that I had some real issues with the corporate side of raising animals in our country.
I personally believe that God has created some animals for consumption, but I also believe that those animals are His creation, and He wants us to be good stewards of what He gives to us. We have a responsibility to treat everything that God created with more than just the bottom line in mind. So I made the decision to only bring humanely-raised meats into my home. Since then, I've been able to adhere to it pretty well in my own home, since I do all the grocery shopping and plan the meals. I've become quite the expert at package reading and crap detection. The problem has been restaurants and other people's homes. But for Lent this year (and beyond), I have decided to go all the way. I have made it all of three days without eating any sort of meat from questionable sources, and it hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I basically have to be a vegetarian outside of the home, but really I'm only concerned at being a guest in other people's homes. I certainly don't want to be rude to someone. My plan is to rave so much about the side dishes that they don't notice that I didn't take a pork chop :)
There have been many, many times that I have contemplated writing about this subject on my blog, but something has always given me pause. Part of me feared judgment from both sides - accusations of not doing enough, or being perceived as uppity, snobbish, overly sensitive, crunchy, or worse. Plus, coming to a conclusion about what I eat has been a part of my spiritual journey over the last several years, but it's not something that is really talked about in churches, so I've come to a lot of conclusions about this from my own scriptural interpretations, and I am NOT the theological expert in the family. I've written about my need to please people in previous posts, and I am hoping and praying that part of my spiritual growth during the season of Lent will be letting go of that for good. This is part of who I am now. I sleep better at night and I feel that I am following God's plan for me more closely. God wants us to give EVERY part of our lives to him! It has been much harder than I thought to write out my thoughts about this in what I hope is a succinct manner - my backspace button has gotten quite a workout!