When I was in fifth grade, I decided that for Lent I wanted to really make a sacrifice. I thought about it and thought about it, wracking my brain for what would be the hardest to give up.
Soda? Definitely liked that, but we didn’t normally have a ton of it in the house. It was more of a going out to dinner thing, so it wouldn’t be that hard to avoid.
Candy? Delicious, but similar to the soda situation.
TV? That was getting closer. Definitely liked TV, particularly if I could put a movie on. Then it was great.
But it still didn’t seem quite right. And then it hit me. The thing that I loved doing more than anything else in the world.
That would be hard. Really, really hard. Maybe even impossible, but I was going to try. I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I was proud I had found something that would be truly difficult.
My parents, however, were not too keen on the choice.
I promised them that I was only giving up my for-fun reading, not any of my school stuff. But that didn’t seem to be enough to get them any more into the decision.
I was a stubborn kid, though. And I was standing firm. Eventually, the convinced me to talk about it with my teacher. So, the next day, I walked into St. Patrick’s School, ready for my teacher to agree with me completely.
And be a little relieved, as well.
After all, she was the second teacher to tell my parents that I really shouldn't be trying to sneakily read during math and science. Wedging the book between my lap and the desk and “discreetly” looking down at it while pretending to take notes? Apparently not fooling anyone.
So, yes, I was expecting relief.
As soon as I told her, I could tell I wasn’t going to get the agreement I was looking for. She sat me down and told me that she thought it was very nice that I wanted to make such a big sacrifice, but that no one, especially God, wanted me to give up anything that was good for me. And reading, she was very insistent, was good for me. She told me that just like we shouldn’t give up food that makes our body stronger, we shouldn’t be giving up anything that makes out minds stronger.
In the face of all this unexpected exaltation of reading, how could I cast it aside, even temporarily? So, I chose a different sacrifice to make and kept on “hiding” my books under the desk (in retrospect, my teacher probably would have supported me giving up that one particular activity, but I was an all or nothing sort of kid).
And I learned that no matter how noble your intentions, reading is just too important to give up.