Yesterday I wrote, "Lent is not about what we give up, but what we add to our lives in preparation for Easter." I'd like to talk about the "giving up" for a bit today. Last night we had a pancake dinner at the church. While I was visiting with one of our families, I discovered that there child has juvenile diabetes. They came prepared with water to drink and sugar-free syrup for her. As I talked with them, I found out that they had a very healthy approach to dealing with her situation. They realized that there would be times when she would be in a situation where it would be awkward for her to completely stay away from sugar. So they "deal" with it. If she is in a place where she has sugar, she takes a bit more insulin and the balance is restored to her body.
I see this as an example of how we should approach Lent. If we have "given up" something for Lent--say chocolate--and we are at a birthday party where the cake happens to be a chocolate cake, there are two ways to handle it. First, we can simply just not eat the cake and explain that we have given up chocolate for Lent. The problem with this approach (in my opinion) is that it is very much like those Jesus condemned for making a show of fasting. The fasting wasn't wrong, but how they handled it was. The second approach (and the one that I feel is more in the spirit of Lent) is to go ahead and eat a small piece of the cake (and not draw attention to yourself) and then spend a little extra time with God later in the privacy of your own home. After all, the reason we are giving something up is not to be "holier-than-thou" but to give that to God.
Now I know that there will be many people who believe that this is a cop out, but I don't. The reason for the "giving up" is for giving more to God. If that is the case, then "breaking Lent" in order to avoid putting the focus on us rather than God seems reasonable.
Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. Don;'t let your own self righteousness get in the way! Make sure that in all you do (and that includes all you have decided not to do!) God is kept first and foremost.