Each year I pick my Lent. Gross! No, I’m not talking about belly-buttons.
I’m talking about the traditional 40 days of fasting before Easter. Fasting is basically giving up something for a period of time and sometimes involves reflection and prayer.
I don’t practice Catholicism, but I’ve learned to embrace this ancient tradition each year. Why is that?
Why I Practice Lent
1) Helps me focus on what is important: faith, family, friends, fitness, finances.
2) Shows me how I rely on the material world much more than I ought.
3) Lent has been practiced by many historical role models, who accomplished much in their lifetime.
4) Teaches me about delayed gratification and saying “no” to myself.
I believe the ability to give up something for a short time, in order to have something more or better in the future is an invaluable skill to develop.
Did you hear about the Stanford marshmallow experiment with kids? Watch a video of the recreated experiment. What would you do?
What I’m Giving up for Lent
I’ll share one ‘vice’ I often give up for Lent. Coffee. It is a ritual steeped in mysticism. Some would even call coffee a miracle drug.
Drug indeed. I find that I sometimes get a headache and moody if I don’t get my ‘fix’ in the morning. It is something that I come to rely on. I don’t want to rely on some liquid in a cup. That’s why I give up coffee each year during Lent.
Will I go back, probably so, that smell is intoxicating…the aroma, the foam on a Peet’s latte…ah must focus!
*I’m substituting chocolate in 2015 since we just had a newborn and I foresee sleepless nights ahead.
Ideas for Fasting During Lent
What can you give up (fast) for Lent? A few ideas to spark your imagination:
- Time- What do you spend a lot of time on each week? Facebook, TV, News, Angry Birds?
- Energy- Is there something that sucks up a lot of energy from you each week? Perhaps giving that up for a time period? No, you can’t fast your family.
- Creativity- Is there an activity that limits your creativity and ability to think deeply?
- Stomach- This is the easiest and most common activity to give up. Coffee, Chocolate, Butter, etc.
- Health- Do you endanger your health by doing something each day? Perhaps another candidate for Lent.
- Relationships- What is keeping you from your important relationships and times of connection to God?
Lent may not be for everyone. If you come from a religious Catholic background, you might have even been forced to practice Lent.
I encourage you to revisit this practice and see if it can be a time of refocusing and reflection for your life.
Will you practice Lent this year? What does Lent mean to you?
Photo Credit Professor Bop (Creative Commons)