First of all, I just want to stipulate that I wrote this post as a member of the Methodist Church, meaning my ideas about Lent and its practices will probably be very different from how other denominations, like Catholics and Anglicans, observe the season. I just wanted to put that out in the open before I even began.
Happy Ash Wednesday! Is it just me or have we had a lot of holidays to celebrate lately? Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Mardi Gras, and now the beginning of the Lenten Season. What I want to know is why none of these holidays have become days off of work… But I digress. Today begins the Season of Lent, a pretty important 46-day period before Easter for certain Christian denominations. Now I will be the first to admit that I’m not the best or most observant Christian, but I have always loved Lent. I don’t know if it’s the accountability present when giving something up for a set period of time or the pride that comes with making it to Easter knowing that you have forsaken something like you promised you would. Either way, I was always glad that the Methodist Church observed Lent.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the season and what I wanted to do with this new period in my life. As such, I’ve compiled a little list of things to give up for Lent in case you’re also floundering about it.
Giving up sweets (candy, baked goods, ice cream, everything resembling a sugary snack) has always been my go-to when Lent came around. I used to just give up chocolate, but I would inevitably bite into a seemingly yellow cupcake and find a sneaky layer of chocolate filling! I’ve been thinking a lot about what to give up for Lent this year because, if I’m being honest, it’s become a season of giving it up for the sake of my body with little thought about the reason behind the whole thing. Nevertheless, sweets had to go on the list after at least a decade of giving them up!
I recently spoke with Kate about negativity, insecurities, and other feminist ramblings, and it made me think that clearing my life of negativity, especially toward myself, would be a great idea for Lent. I could also benefit from getting some negativity out of the workplace!
Just for the record, I don’t smoke. Maybe someday I’ll be able to share my experiences with my maternal grandmother and her awful time battling emphysema and a pair of dying lungs, but until then just know that I never have and never will smoke anything (and neither should you)! But when I started thinking about things to abstain from for Lent, it made me think of my dad and how he would always say he was giving up smoking. As a note, he also doesn’t smoke. Ha ha, my dad is so funny. But for any of you who might smoke the occasional or constant cigarette, Lent is a great period to try to quit.
Cursing? Cussing? Saying bad words? I couldn’t figure out the best way to put that. They all sounded so juvenile. Regardless, my grandmother always used to say that people who cussed weren’t intelligent enough to think of better ways to express their feelings, and I have to say that I tend to hear her voice in my head when I stoop to that level.
Now I have to admit, this one would be a challenge. Caffeine never used to have an effect on my body, but lately I am yawning through the morning if I miss my morning cup of coffee. Could this phenomenon have more to do with slow, winter days than caffeine? Perhaps. But I’ve started buying only decaffeinated teas since I noticed it.
6. Social media
Since I switched over to a self-hosted blog, I’ve been making a big push on my social media sites to get my content out there, so it would not be so smart for me to then put my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. on hold for the majority of the next two months. I will say that if I’d thought about giving these accounts up at this time last year, I would have been much more productive during my senior year of college. I am a huge procrastinator, and what better way to do that than by looking up cute photos of border collies?
This last idea is going to be a bit different. A few years ago, I remember discussing Lent with my aunt, and she introduced me to the concept of adding something to your life for Lent instead of taking something away. I haven’t tried it out yet, but since I’ve felt a little disconnected to the real reason behind the Season of Lent for a little while, I thought this could be my year. That’s why along with whatever I give up for Lent, I’m also going to add…
7. A daily devotional
I love devotionals. Like the really good, follow-along-in-a-notebook-and-write-your-own-thoughts daily devotionals. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be very appreciative. Especially since Lent begins today, and I still haven’t found anything!