Ash Wednesday is today and with it begins the season of Lent. I did not celebrate Lent until I was an adult. Mostly because I didn’t understand the purpose of Lent and I also don’t like depriving myself. Just sayin’. As I have gotten older and really come to understand the meaning of Lent I see the importance of it. In this day and age of overindulgence, I can definitely see the benefit of giving up something that we want to remind us that we want Christ more.
Each year I see many posts on Facebook and hear from friends who have given up chocolate or carbs or caffeine. While I think that if that is what God is calling you to give up, you should definitely go with that, the things I have given up that make a life long impact don’t have anything to do with material objects. They are those things about my character that by giving up will give me freedom, and draw me closer to Christ.
A couple of years ago, I decided to give up complaining for Lent. For 40 days I would not complain about things that bothered me. If someone was rude at work, I wouldn’t complain about it to my husband or co-workers. If the house wasn’t clean, I didn’t complain to my kids. This doesn’t mean that I just let everyone run over me for 40 days but I found ways to solve problems without complaining about them. With work situations I might pray for a co-worker, student or parent who may have treated me less than desirably. At home, I would ask the boys to please pick up after themselves. What I didn’t indulge in were the gripe sessions that tend to happen when we feel mistreated or the nagging that takes place when things aren’t done to our liking. Complaining was also what I gave up last year because I needed a refresher. If you want to get close to God and if you strive to pray more during Lent, pray each time you want to complain about something. God and I were tight during Lent for both those years! It also showed me when I started really thinking about each time I complained, how much I had let this habit become a part of my life.
The years I gave up complaining for Lent, I felt like it was silly to go back to complaining at the end of 40 days. Did I really want to go back to whining and complaining about everything instead of praying to God to change my heart and to see how I could improve a situation without complaining about it? So, instead of giving up complaining just for Lent, I decided to give it up, period. I still slide back into the habit of complaining and have to reel myself back in but I do feel like I have improved in this area and my life as a whole is better for it.
This year I am giving up envy for Lent. We had a sermon at church on envy a couple of weeks ago. This was one of those sermons I figured did not apply to me because I never thought of myself as an envious person. I’m not really materialistic but I realized during the message that there is a whole lot more to envy that just wanting a possession that someone has. I’ll be writing about my journey to give up envy more during Lent.
This year I challenge you to give up something that you don’t want to have back at the end of this 40 day period. Some ideas:
3. Making excuses
Giving up one of these things will change you from the inside out. What are some things that you have given up for Lent that have been life changing?