On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, my pastor asked all of us at church to start thinking about Lent. What might we do this Lenten season, and what might we give up, he asked?
His sermon really got me thinking. In the past, I’ve used Lent as an opportunity to give up things that I loved. Things that might sound simple and slightly ridiculous, but that were actually quite hard for me to cut out. It was Swedish fish one year. Popcorn and licorice another. Last year, I gave up chips and guacamole (my all-time favorite).
What I’ve learned from Lent over the years is that stopping something cold does make a difference. It doesn’t matter what you give up. Your relationship with whatever has a hold on you will change, no matter what it is. And so, as I thought about all of this last Sunday, I wondered: what vice do I have right now that has too much of a hold on me? Then, out of the blue, it came to me. The answer is self-doubt.
Yes, I have self-doubt. Yes, I question myself. Yes, I question the decisions that I make — big and small — way more than I care to admit. But, I’ve come to think and to feel that self-doubt is really harmful. It’s cruel, it’s critical and it’s mean. It’s also bad for my health — my physical health, my mental health, and my spiritual health.
And so, I decided right then and there to kick the habit. Then Ash Wednesday came — the day I was to begin — and the school shooting in Parkland, FL, happened. That led me back to church, trying to make sense of such a senseless tragedy.
I sat there trying to think about whether I should stick with giving up self-doubt for Lent. It just seemed so trivial in the wake of 17 people being killed. Then, I stopped myself cold. No, I was sure. Self-doubt is exactly what I should give up during these confusing and troubling times.
Giving up self-doubt is the right thing for me for many reasons, but it’s especially important now because I don’t want to spend any more of my precious time alive on this earth doubting myself.