Hello friends! Happy little-more-than-halfway-through Lent! Although Lent started awhile ago, it is always helpful for a couple reminders… I especially need them now since I don’t have the zeal and inspiration that I did at the beginning of Lent! Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned from friends, teachers, and experience. Have any more? Let me know in the comment section! 🙂
1. Giving up something is an act of love, not an act of dread.
Something my teacher said on Ash Wednesday was “In whatever you give up, you’re telling God ‘Hey God, I love you more than _______.'” Wow. I’ve never thought about it that way. Giving up something has always had that connotation of “Oh shoot, it’s that time of year again. I better get ready to suffer and be miserable and die.” Which sure, I still think some times, but now I think of it as an act of love, a sacrifice to prove to Jesus how much I love Him. And it makes the pain a little more bearable, and a little more beautiful.
EXAMPLE: You gave up chocolate. You go to a birthday party and guess what flavor is the beautiful, mouth-watering cake? Chocolate. You want to leave right then and there because it will be soooo hard watching all your friends eat chocolate cake. BUT you think of Jesus refraining from basic food and water in the desert and you decide to hold your head a little higher. If Jesus can go 40 days without food or water in general, you can go 40 days without a little chocolate.
2. Taking up is just as good as giving up.
This is something my parish priest recommended… it’s so great to give something up that you love but it’s also so great to take up something that makes you a better person. That ways you are refraining from something that might be a bad habit, and starting something that could lead to a good one. Vice to a virtue, am I right? They both can be small things, but if they are your sole focus and you genuinely wish for the fruits of your sacrifices, I promise God won’t let you down. 🙂
EXAMPLE: You’ve decided you have a special talent for complaining and letting everyone know about it. So, you’ve also decided to give up that special talent for Lent. However, you find although you are quieter and don’t express it as much, in your mind you are still complaining and whining. So you decide to fill that sinful void with compliments, instead of complaining. Your mom asks you to unload the dishwasher? You say, “Sure mom! Thanks for cooking that big meal tonight!” Your friend asks you to help on her algebra homework? You say, “Sure friend! By the way, your hair looks great that way!” See- a vice turned virtue. 😉
3. It’s important to stay accountable.
Well this is an important life lesson in general, but I find it is extra handy in Lent. We all know the drill- at the beginning we are exited (or the opposite of it) to get going on our resolutions and be strong and get spiritually (and perhaps physically) fit! A couple days go by- no problem. But thennnnnn you start to sink into the hole of normal patterns- letting your conscience convince you it’s okay and sneaking some breaks here and there. BUT with an accountability partner, or simply checking in with your friends how their promises are going can help a lot. That aways you’ll feel one of two things when you tell them how you’ve caved in again 1- embarrassed or 2- sick of telling them that you’ve failed over and over SO either way you are going to want to try better. Also friends are great, I love friends, and they love you. So they are going to want to help you achieve your goals!
Example: Let’s say something you take up for Lent is going to daily Mass. The first week- easy. You get up early and eat a full breakfast and you’re ready to go. However, the second week you feel like the world is falling down along with your grades, your social life, and your amount of sleep. However, your friend calls you in the morning and yells “HEY FRIEND PLZ GO TO MASS BECAUSE YOU LOVE JESUS” and after Mass he asks how the Mass was. The next day, partially because you want revenge from that early call and partially because you care about his soul, you ask your friend how his new vegetarian diet is going and he makes a face and explains the hardships. Key note of this example- accountability partners are what you make of it- but if you sincerely try to hold each other accountable it is a lot easier (and maybe more fun) to keep your promises.
SO I hope my ramblings helped in your Lenten journey! It’s not over yet, stay strong! 🙂
Have a blessed rest of your week, my friends!
All through Christ,