Two blogs that I enjoy have two very different reflections on giving up something for Lent, both revolving around soda (or pop, or Coke, or whatever your regional variant).
Hugo Schwyzer will be forgoing his dependence on carbonated beverages so he can be more attuned to his dependence on God:
This year, I want to remember that Lent is a season in which we are invited to become more dependent on God and less dependent on the things of the world. My soda habit, like all addictions, distracts me from that "small voice" of God. The addiction, fueling me with huge amounts of caffeine, gives me the illusion of power and control and invincibility. Lent is a time to get in touch with our vulnerability, our fragility, and our mortality. By depriving myself -- cold turkey -- of a substance on which I have come to rely, I know I'm going to have some discomfort. And in that discomfort, I'll be forced (in a small way) to turn towards Christ. This afternoon, the cravings for the Monster drink will kick in (about 2:45PM, my usual time to chug one down). I'll resist the temptation, and I'll let the addictive desire serve as a reminder to pray. Monks in monasteries may have bells that call them to regular prayer; from experience, I know that withdrawal from a beloved substance serves a similar function.
Hugo is also donating the money he would have spent on these drinks to charity.
Kristen at McCarty Musings is troubled by the frivolity of what we give up in contrast to Jesus' work on the cross:
[O]ver the past few seasons of Lent I've given up chocolate and fiction and Dr. Pepper for the forty days. Juxtaposed against the torture and death and martyrdom of Christ, my giving up carbonated beverages looks absolutely ridiculous. And not only ridiculous, but sad. Does it not point to the luxury with which I live my life? "Hi, Jesus. Thanks for the sacrifice of your life. Thanks for undergoing torture and ridicule and a prolonged, agonizing death. Hey- I think I'll make the ultimate sacrifice and give up The Daily Show!".
I truly do understand the point of the Lenten Fast, and I truly want to honor this season. Maybe what is ridiculous is not in what we fast from for Lent, but the way we live our lives in general.
I suppose the bigger question of Lent is how we find spiritual discipline, how we quiet ourselves in the midst of our busy lives to better hear God, how we contemplate the journey Jesus took to Good Friday. Sometimes it is the small things in our lives - like giving up soda - that can point us in the right direction; other times we need to shake things up for more than 40 days out of the year.