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Giving Up on Giving Up
Susan Vogt
Source: Every Day Catholic
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
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A year ago, I was facing Lent—again. I was ready to repeat the routine of what I usually do for Lent: no sweets or complaining, extra prayer, and the usual fasting and abstinence. I realized, though, that I wasn’t growing or being challenged. I decided to find a practice that would remind me daily of this penitential season and join me to Jesus’ sacrifice of his life for others.

What if I gave away one thing a day for the 40 days of Lent? I wanted to live a simpler lifestyle both for spiritual reasons—“[Jesus] said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic’” (Luke 9:3)—and also to declutter my life.

I decided to take this on as a challenge and a sacrifice—hoping it would clean out not only my closets, but also my heart and soul. This kind of sacrifice may not appeal to—or be appropriate for—everyone, but it may prompt you to consider what you can give up for Lent that will make more of a difference than losing a few pounds.
The plan

I started my Lenten giveaway with shoes. I thought this would be easy since I’m not a big collector of shoes—or so I thought. According to Soles4Souls (, the average American owns 13 pairs of shoes. I figured I was under that and could go lower. Wrong. When I added up all my shoes (including slippers and boots), it came to 30 pairs. I was horrified! I pruned it down to 13, but I’m not happy about being average.

I moved on to clothes. I had many clothes that I seldom wear now that I work at home. I discovered that I had enough extras to give more than one thing away a day and could go by categories.

I started with the letter S—shirts, skirts, suits, slacks, sweaters and scarves—and gathered up all the old-fashioned, in need of repair or makes-me-look-fat clothes. I pulled out about seven extra items for each “S” and created breathing room in my closet. I was feeling pretty good about this pruning but ran into a problem.

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