You’ve probably gathered that I’m not a traditional religious sort of person. I’m spiritual –  I might fall into the pagan category, but certainly not in the purest sense of the word. So when I decided to observe Lent, my friends and loved ones said, “Huh? Why would you do something like that? You’re not Catholic.”

As it turns out, Lent is not the exclusive property of Catholicism. Also known as Quadragesima, it  is observed by Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, and Presbyterians. As you may notice, pagans are not included in this list, but I did go to the Presbyterian church when one of my grandmothers took me to whatever church they could.

Regardless, I decided to observe Lent as a test of my self-discipline, which I have struggled with for some time. I’m not being all crazy about it, but I am giving up something that tempts me – and that something is sweet stuff.

Yes, dessert (and snacky sweets) has gone off into the desert of my past for the 40 days of penitence. I have no real devout aspirations – I just want to see if I can do it. It’s been almost a week tomorrow and I have been tempted sorely by fruit tarts, brownies, home-baked cookies, numerous pies, and luscious chocolate bars.  And I am pleased to say that, while tempted, I have resisted.

The whole thing is good for my diet, good for my teeth, good for my temperament, and good for my spirit. In fact, I’m finding it somewhat of a relief to have this self-imposed moratorium on these things. I know I have a tendency to indulge, and to eat emotionally, and sweets are one of those things that I turn to in times of stress, boredom, and depression. With this personal pledge, I don’t have to worry about it. And it’s helping me be more proactive with healthier eating in general –  for example, today was Meatless Monday.

I think the main thing for me, aside from the health benefits, is proving to myself that I can stick with something I’m not keen on doing for 40 days. I believe this entire experience will go a long way towards furthering my faith in myself, and my ability to meet challenges, even when they’re not fun or easy (if it’s fun and easy, is it really a challenge?) So I guess in many ways, the whole thing is about having faith.

That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?