Yesterday I touched on how to celebrate Lent as a family. I also strongly believe you need to do something for yourself. Yes, you can gain graces from participating with your children, but you need to find a way to personally strengthen your own relationship with Christ.
I say, dig deep. No, you don’t have to give up the world and make promises you can’t keep. Perhaps giving up sweets, which really ARE your vice, is the thing to do. But, whatever you give up (or choose to do more of!) during Lent should be a SACRIFICE. It should be HARD. It should ask you to STRETCH OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. Otherwise, you’re missing the whole point of Lent. A priest once reminded me that if I chose to give up television, for example, every time I reached for the remote, I should be reminded of Christ’s sacrifice. Therefore, as I set the remote down and walk away from the temptation, I’m feeling a bit of selflessness and I’m reminded of what Jesus did for us. When put that way, it makes one rethink the sacrifice doesn’t it?
I also say, forget about what other people are doing. Your Lent will be different than another person’s. The things you learn and the ways you grow this season are different than the gal next to you. It’s not a race, there is no prize for “best Lenten sacrifice.” It’s fun to pin things on Pinterest or share your status update on FB about your progress, but do it for the right reasons. Jesus is worth at least that.
One Lent I gave up Dr. Pepper. Oh boy. Scott almost found me famished on the side of the road. I learned a lot that Lent. Namely, that giving up DP was painful for all of us. The Lent I gave up Facebook proved to be completely fabulous. There was the Lent when I strove to work out every day – #fail. Or, the one I didn’t do anything at all. I think that was shortly after Luke was born. Oh wait, I did give something up – sleep and my sanity.
My point? Write down what you’re going to do and enlist the people you love to help you achieve your goals. I’ve learned that Lent is a lot like working out. You have to share your passion with people you love so in the moments when you feel like giving up, they’re standing on the sideliness cheering you on, motivating you to do your best.
This year, my prayers, fasting and almsgiving have me very excited, and a wee bit humbled, too.
PRAYER: Our parish is offering DAILY confessions during the ENTIRE season of Lent (can I get a hoo-rah?) and DAILY Mass at 6:30am, Monday-Friday for those that want to attend during the work week. I talked to Scott and he’s willing to work out one day a week here at the house so I can attend Daily Mass once each week. What a gift. A busy mom of 5 never gets that kind of time. I can hardly wait. And, I plan on hitting confession as well. I definitely don’t have any excuses now.
FASTING: Oh, FB, how I love thee. To be honest, though, sometimes I just don’t want to get caught up in all the drama. I might even give it up again in October as we enter the election season… My Facebook fast has proven to be a gift these last two years, and I suspect this year won’t disappoint.
ALMSGIVING: Last year, my 40 notes of gratitude permanently altered my perspective. Talk about 40 days of love. I felt it. This year, I’ve decided to go a slightly different route and do “40 Bags for 40 Days.” We live in excess, all of us. If you’re reading this blog, chances are you have a computer, a laptop, a smart phone or all three. That right there means you’re living in the 1% of the population. You need little, you want a lot. Btw, I’m the one in the corner raising my hand and shouting an “Amen” to all that. I’ve decided to take 40 areas of our house and fill up a bag to either trash, recycle or donate. If I don’t emerge from the kids’ closets in a couple of days, come look for me. We do a pretty good job of keeping things cleaned out around here, but I don’t kid myself. We have more than we need while others live without. It’s time to share the wealth. If Lent is about freeing oneself to grow closer to Christ, then I hope my little project frees my heart of some things I’ve been holding on to for far too long.
Live it up, Fat Tuesday. The season of sacrifice is upon is, and I don’t think it’s ever been as sweet!