Guest / Limited Access /

As I begin to pen this little essay, I grab another three Werther's Original Hard Candies, when I've already consumed two over my daily allotment. Such is the state of my personal discipline when it comes to food—I have no discipline.

So maybe this would be a perfect thing to focus on during Lent. I'm really sick and tired of being a person who has no food discipline, and I'm sick and tired of carrying around extra weight. And to be honest, when I think about this part of my life, I'm sick and tired of me. Maybe a little abstinence will do me some good. Maybe I should give up candy for Lent. Or maybe fast one day a week. Or do something hard. Then I might learn a little food discipline. I might even start losing weight. I might even start feeling good about myself again.

This train of despair is no doubt very common this time of year. By mid-February, our New Year's resolutions are ancient history. Along comes Ash Wednesday and, well, it's like a reprieve. We get a second chance to discipline some weakness or form a new habit. Another opportunity to improve our flagging self-respect!

Lent is supposed to have more spiritual overtones than the mere self-improvement mantras of New Year's. But I suspect that for many of us, Lenten disciplines are more about us than about God. More about getting our act together in some area that continually discourages us and repeatedly sabotages our self-respect. The advantage of Lent over New Year's resolutions is that we can bring God to our side, and the whole church is there to cheer us on. But for many of us, I suspect, it's one big self-improvement regimen, with God as mere personal coach. But who am I to judge others? I have enough self-centeredness of my own to deal with.

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

SoulWork
In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is Editor of Christianity Today in Carol Stream, Illinois.
Previous SoulWork Columns:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueThe New Baptist Covenant: Will It Work?
Subscriber Access Only
The New Baptist Covenant: Will It Work?
Jimmy Carter's attempt to unite Baptists may be a bridge too far for some.
Current IssueReply All
Subscriber Access Only Reply All
Responses to our July/August issue via letters, tweets, and Facebook posts.
RecommendedSave Your Soul: Stop Writing
Save Your Soul: Stop Writing
In the age of push-button publishing, self-disclosure isn't always God's best.
TrendingOld Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
Old Hollywood’s Abortion Secret
What a culture of death tells us about a culture of life.
Editor's PickTen Christian Athletes Who Were Tebowing Before Tebow
Ten Christian Athletes Who Were Tebowing Before Tebow
Christian sports stars have a long history of using their public platform to display their private faith.
Christianity Today
Giving Up Self-Discipline for Lent
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.