Things to Give Up For Lent
When was the last time you had a really memorable Lent? Or even a life-changing Lent? So often, we just give up something like chocolate like we always have, without giving it much thought. And we don’t really stick to it. Or if we do manage to get to Easter without eating said chocolate, we realize we haven’t really grown spiritually since the beginning of Lent. And isn’t that actually the point?
The point of giving something up, of fasting, is to cultivate the inner life. When we fast, we realize how truly dependent on God we are. We open our hearts, our minds, and our bodies to God’s love in our lives. We look at the ways that we need to grow, and dedicate ourselves to becoming a-better-version-of-ourselves. And when we make ourselves available to God, incredible things can happen. That’s what can make Lent so powerful.
But you can take it one step further. Don’t just give something up. There is also great value in doing something for Lent. It’s the perfect time not only to abandon self-destructive habits, but also to form new life-giving habits, habits that can extend beyond the 40 days of Lent. Give something up, eliminate a bad habit from your life, and then fill that gap intentionally. Look at how you can become a-better-version-of-yourself, and commit to a new good habit.
Below are two lists. One is a list of things to give up for Lent, and the other is a list of life-giving habits. I invite you this Lent to pick one from each list. Just one from each list. Give something up, then fill the gap.
Things to Give Up For Lent
Don’t eat what you want.
Matthew Kelly talks about the power of never leaving the dinner table without making an act of self denial. Take that to heart at every meal this Lent. If you want waffles for breakfast, make eggs instead. Instead of drinking orange juice, drink water.
Give something away—every day.
Maybe it’s not your wardrobe that needs cleaning out, but consider giving something away each day, or each week, during Lent.
Don’t interrupt people.
We could probably all do well to spend more time listening, and less time interjecting.
Have you ever stopped to think about how many times a day you complain about something? What if, instead, you find constructive ways to talk about your difficulties? What if you look for the good in people instead of focusing on any inconvenience we experience?
Don’t waste downtime.
You don’t have to give up social media or the like entirely, but you can be intentional about not using it during those times. Take that time instead to pray, to breathe, to reach out to someone around you. You’ll be amazed at the difference it can make in your day.
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Things To Do For Lent
Spend time in the classroom of silence.
Set a timer in your kitchen, then forget about it. Spend the time however you want. These Lenten prayers may help guide your time. Maybe you can do an hour, or maybe you can do 10 minutes. But take the time for silence and reflection each day.
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Read the Gospels.
Pick a Gospel and read a passage each day during Lent. It is in reading the Gospels that we can realize that Jesus is not just a historical figure. He is alive and with us in everything we do.
Sit in a church
Stop by a church for a few moments each day during Lent. Sitting in a quiet, empty church is a beautiful experience. Just you and God. There is something powerful about that.
Do an act of love every day.
Send a kind note to a loved one, do a good deed for a stranger, volunteer, post something inspiring on social media. It doesn’t have to be big—just do something each day.
So, what two habits are going to lead you to your best Lent ever this year?
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