A Different Way to Think About Lent

Instead of giving up, doing without, or denying yourself some "thing" for the next seven Fridays, why not *ADD* something to your life as you celebrate the season of Lent?

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The definition of Lent (in case you need a refresher) is the period preceding Easter that is devoted to fasting, abstinence and penitence in commemoration of Christ's fasting in the wilderness.  It runs from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday and includes forty weekdays.

 

Many years ago, someone I respect immensely told me that instead of taking something away from herself during Lent - she adds something to her life by giving something she doesn't normally give and doing something she doesn't normally do in celebration of Lent.

Here's another way to look at it.  Instead of internalizing or focusing inward on what your are giving up as a martyr would, instead go outward with your season of Lent and give away your fast. Why not give away what you're giving up?  The fastest way to get over yourself and the struggles you face is to do something for someone else.  When you are feeling bad about something or spend all your time worrying about an issue you are facing you are only focusing on that one thing.  If you spend all your time on that problem, then you have a harder time being grateful for all the things that are good in your life.  The fastest way to snap out of that mindset is to do something for someone else.  Let's say for Lent you decide to give up chocolates or sweets. Why not buy the candy anyway and send it to your children's school office? The people behind the scenes are sometimes overlooked and this is a great time to let them know they're appreciated.  Maybe if you want to deny yourself Diet Coke or other sodas, get a six pack of them and leave them in a cooler in your car.  How fun would it be to pass them through the car window at a stoplight to a construction worker, or police officer on your way to work?Maybe you want to avoid Starbucks for then next 40 days and the smell of a good cup of coffee is just too tempting...you could buy small denomination coffee shop gift cards and give one away a week to a neighbor or someone at church.

Giving away what you're denying yourself provides an opportunity to say "WHY" you're doing it and will often lead to additional discussions about "WHAT" Lent is and why you're observing it. 

Let's say you have a bad habit (or maybe Frantic Finch has a bad habit)  like checking her phone in the car.  Dangerous habit.  We could put a note on our dash to remind ourselves that we're not giving up checking our phone, rather we are "adding* more safety to our driving routine.  (What works for me is putting my phone on silent and dropping it in my purse behind the driver's seat.) When people ride in your car, and maybe it's only your children; you can use these 40 days to set a great example about safe driving and making good decisions.

Maybe another lifestyle adjustment would be to *add* bible verses to your daily routine.  If you aren't currently reading a devotional every morning, why not start? *ADD* that to your season of Lent.  After forty days, you might develop the habit and look forward to the five or ten minutes of peace and enjoy the time it takes you to read a Bible verse and devotion.

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If you don't normally donate to charity, pick one a week - maybe every Friday and donate something to them. Gifts aren't necessarily money, especially if you're strapped.  Call an organization and ask them what they need. You might have the toner cartridge their company needs in your home office. They might be short on Macaroni & Cheese at the local food pantry and you have a couple of extra boxes in your pantry. The local animal shelter might need old towels and you have a stack sitting in your garage. It's possible that the women's shelter could use laundry detergent and you scored a buy one get one free deal just last week. Giving away can be a fantastic adventure in celebrating Lent.

Giving up doesn't mean doing without.

Giving away can be the fastest track to *gaining* a closer relationship with Jesus.

Giving gets your mind off of you and on to others and Jesus is cool with that.