Walking to a restaurant to grab lunch with an old friend last week, I was struck by how cold it was outside. Now, I’ve lived most of my life in places where it gets cold in the winter, so I’m used to this kind of weather, but this particular stroll had me longing for spring. As I neared the restaurant and the promise of warmth inside, I imagined spring—flowers blooming, warm breezes blowing, and the sun shining (when it’s not raining of course). These sudden thoughts of spring made me think about Lent, and, more specifically, what giving something up for Lent means. Over the rest of this short reflection, I’ll consider about some of the ways we think about Lent and suggest a new way of thinking about why we give up things for Lent. Lent is commonly thought of as a time of self-denial, and it is certainly one of the times during the liturgical year that we are encouraged to examine and deny ourselves. So, if you decided to be more patient during Lent or give up behavior that is detrimental to yourself and others, I wholeheartedly encourage you in those endeavors. This form of self-denial (denying our impulses to sin and cultivating a love for others) is a vital part of Lent and the Christian life as a whole. Another form of self-denial during Lent is giving up something that you enjoy as both an exercise of restraint and in an attempt to share in Christ’s giving up of his human desires. I would like to re-frame this second kind of self-denial that many of us practice during Lent as something more than simply giving up sugar or alcohol, but as a way of expressing a joyful and patient outlook on faith. This is the revelation that hit me on my walk to the restaurant. As the seasons change and the weather becomes cold, I look forward to the days when the spring and summer will return. Lent is like winter. During Lent, we decide to give up things that bring us joy to experience the lack of them, not just as a form of self-denial, but so we can yearn for them, just as we long for the day when Christ returns to establish his kingdom on earth. We follow this path during Advent, awaiting Christ’s incarnation on earth, and Lent operates in a similar manner, as we eagerly anticipate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. Due to our immersion in the culture around us, most of us (I know I certainly do) have a problem with waiting; we want everything as soon as possible. Yet, this mentality often robs us of the joy to be found in waiting and longing for the Beloved to return. So, in those moments of darkest craving this Lent, try to remember that Lent is not just about the discipline of denying yourself, but also about looking forward to the return of what has gone missing. It’s feeling the pang of hunger while fasting and knowing you will eat again. It’s stepping outside into the freezing wind and snow and remembering that spring is just around the corner.