Around this time of year, many Christians and Catholics from around the world observe Lent. They choose to abstain from certain foods or pleasurable activities for 40 days leading up to the single most important event of their faith, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, otherwise known as Easter. Some popular choices include, giving up desserts, taking time out from social media, refraining from deep fried foods, being caffeine-free or simply unplugging the TV… I know it sounds absurd, why would anyone want to give these up? It’s an annual spiritual pilgrimage believers go on to grow closer to God and grow stronger in their faith. So instead of surfing on their iPhone they might use that time to meditate, read their Bible, or write in their journal. Or when tempted to reach for the sprinkle colored donut, they might see it as a reminder to pray for family, friends or the world around them. This may be a foreign, even strange, concept to those who aren’t familiar with Lent.
I believe this practice of ‘giving something up in exchange’ can benefit anyone. Your exchange may not be for spiritual reasons but you can make it deeply personal and meaningful. It can be giving up something tangible like your late night snacks to the intangible like a negative attitude? Or instead of giving something up, why not take something on? Aim to encourage at least one person everyday, ‘ungrudge’ those grudges, look on the brighter side of things, read to the elderly, become a Big Brother or Sister, be intentional to connect with friends and family, write that book or take that class?
Over time, this practice will de-clutter the mind and create more space within the soul to grow. It’ll help you to focus by letting go of things that slowly steal your time or letting go of attitudes that unconsciously hold you back. I’m not advocating that vices are bad but I believe, sometimes, they have an invisible hold on us. How strong – only you would know. I’m confident that you’ll feel and see a difference within 40 days. If you’ve decided to take up this challenge, I’d love to hear how your journey’s going – where it’s taking you and where you are.
© 2014 Susie Lee