“What are you giving up for Lent?”
I dread hearing that question. Every year as so many disciplined and faithful Christ followers begin their time of repentance, fasting and remembrance during the 40 days leading up to Easter, I wrestle with what I am going to give up for Lent.
Am I the only one who just doesn’t do Lent well?
Instead of agonizing over which vice to forego or what I need to live without for 40 days this year, I have decided to take a different approach. While I strongly believe in the practice of fasting and the spiritual benefits gleaned from denying self to focus on Christ, I also believe that the true intent of Lent is to turn our focus to the sacrifice Christ made on the cross.
So this year, why not start something new and practice it for 40 days? Begin a new habit that makes you rely anew on Christ. Invest in a relationship that glorifies the Father. Or anonymously do something for 40 days that blesses someone else. Here are a few ideas on ways to begin something new during Lent:
1) Send an encouraging card, note, or text message each day.
2) Spend 10 minutes of focused prayer for someone you know could use it.
3) Call a different person each day to ask them how they are doing and offer to pray with them.
4) Take a 20 minute walk each day, choosing new places, and prayer walk for the place where you are walking and the people connected to it.
5) Choose a book that will challenge and grow you spiritually and take at least 10 minutes each day to read and take notes.
6) Ask someone in your life each day how they are doing and stop, look them in the eyes and listen to what they actually say.
7) Choose a local elementary school and find the names of teachers and administrators. Each day pray for a different teacher and write them a postcard letting them know you prayed for them. Then drop the postcards off at the school after Lent letting them know you prayed for them.
8) Choose a local non-profit and find a way each day to promote their cause, whether through volunteering, donating, spreading awareness through social media, or praying for them.
9) Pick one item each day from your home to give away to someone else.
10) Do a different random act of kindness each day, but don’t let anyone know what you did.
Instead of feeling stressed about making sure I don’t slip up and do the thing I’m supposed to be fasting from this year….I’m going to rejoice in practicing something new. Whatever way you practice Lent this year, the goal is to keep our spiritual eyes focused on the One who loved us so much He gave it all. His gift is what allows us the grace and freedom to practice our remembering in both old and new ways.
So how will you observe Lent this year?