Wonder what Terry gave up for Lent? Check his fingernails

March 23, 2014 

I'm not telling you what have I given up for Lent 2014.

Why? I'm halfway home. It never fails. Tell someone today. Blow it tomorrow.

Lent can be a challenge for sinners like myself who are easily led into temptation.

The latest research from Web site YouGov shows that just under a fifth of Americans (18 percent) will be giving up something for Lent this year, though 70 percent will not. Many Catholics (46 percent) will give something up, though just over a third (34 percent) will not. Seventeen percent of Protestants are giving something up for Lent this year.

Some of the most popular Lenten sacrifices this year are Twitter,chocolate, swearing, alcohol and soda.

At stages of my life, I've tried giving them all up but Twitter, which I don't use for personal reasons.

One Lent, I gave up Twizzlers, the red licorice. I was fine until I went to the movies.

I've been observing Lent annually since about fifth grade. It was a big deal in Catholic grade school.

Fighting with my brothers.

Disobeying my parents.

Cheating on math tests.

I swore off all of it, including swearing.

One Ash Wednesday, Sister Theresa told us to write down our sacrifice on a piece of paper. We handed it in to her. Of course, most of us wrote down what we thought would make the old nun happy.

No candy.

No TV.

No making bathroom noises in church and making the other boys giggle.

I needed some brownie points with the old nun so I swore off fingernail biting. Sister Theresa told me to stop biting them every day in science class. Keep my fingers from my mouth. That might make the old nun smile, I thought. I'm not sure how I'd know when she was happy, though. Her smile was crooked and looked a lot like her frown.

I went home and told my family.

"Gonna stop biting them today," I bragged, holding up my hands. Mom said she should put nail polish on my fingernails so I would not bite them and live up to my Lenten sacrifice. One of my brothers said Mom should put nail polish on me anyway because I was acting like a little girl.

For about a week, I avoided my fingernails. But I argued a lot with that little voice in my head who kept telling me, "Bite them. God doesn't care about your fingernails. He's more concerned about those magazines of your Dad's you have hidden in the carport ..."

Finally, I got bored in science class again. My right thumb was always the first to go. I hid my hands in my pockets from Sister Theresa for about 35 of the 40 days of Lent.

Unfortunately, I have not done much better as an adult with Lent.

Abstinence always makes me really, really want what I can't have.

One spring, I gave up ice cream. Told my world. They laughed. All I could think about was Ben & Jerrys. So I stopped at DQ at lunch. That was a Friday, two days after Ash Wednesday.

Ice cream lasted only 48 hours, but that was twice as long as another spring when it was Girl Scout cookies. I resisted the Thin Mints. Bragged to my peers. Once the box of Trefoils (shortbread) opened, well, it was like those little squares talked to me.

I've sworn off chocolate at least 30 Lents. I'm successful until I hear the ping of M&Ms into a glass bowl down the hallway. Try to eat just one M&M. Bet you can't either.Vitamins, I call them.

Another year, I actually tried to give up one of the true treats of Lent. Cod cut-ups. French fries. Onion rings. It's a Catholic thing. The scent of fried fish, homemade desserts and draft beer called me home. Lent or not, a guy will eat just about anything that's battered and deep fried. A really good thing about Lent is eating fried food is a religious experience every Friday.

I gave up watching March Madness college basketball games. That was bad for my health, though, because I nervously kept eating and pacing, wondering if my bracket was still relevant. Made it one day.

Shhhh. Wish me luck. There's about a month of Lent remaining. I'm halfway home with my personal sacrifice. But I know I'm not home free yet.

Lent is a lot like my golf game. I have my rare shining moments. But I can cave in at any moment. It'smy annual reminder of how easily I am led into temptation Have mercy on my soul.

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