What I've decided to give up for Lent

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Last week kicked off the 40 day span of Lent. Growing up, I remember vaguely hearing about Lent as something my Catholic friends did, deciding whether or not to give up chocolate or caffeine. Two years ago was the first time I started to understand what Lent really stood for--more than denying yourself some of life's little treats. Yes, that can be an element of it (allowing us to identify with Christ's suffering on the cross), but it's more than that.

These are 40 days where we anticipate Easter. Where we look around us and see our need for Easter, for Christ's death, resurrection and conquering of evil. Where we see our need for that kind of eternal hope in a world that is filled with suffering. But that the suffering will come to an end, and is coming... It is a time when we see that hope and realize our own brokenness, it is a time of repenting for our sins and appreciating the freedom that Christ brought us with the first Easter. That is why we can celebrate come Easter morning!

Without that understanding, "giving up" things for Lent is pretty pointless. It can too easily become legalistic, more about counting down to when we can finally have a sweet or a cup of coke rather than identifying with "the reason for the season." Last year, I decided to join the "giving up" club. I gave up soda, my friend gave up shopping. I knew others who gave up Facebook. But then, once Lent had passed, I went back to not thinking twice about ordering a soda. It mattered for a few weeks, but then the importance of it wore off, as most things do.

This year, I wasn't going to give up anything. But as I'm working through my month of not being aware of the power of my words regarding my husband, I realized how important that awareness is in every part of life, not just my marriage. I hope to use this 40 day stretch of time to ingrain a new habit--one learning to eliminate negativity from my speech--that will last long past Lent. I'll take any negativity to God or to my journal, but make an effort to keep it from my speech, which will be hard because oftentimes that can make for great conversation!

Experts argue that it only takes 21 days to learn a new habit. Lent is generous, giving me twice the amount of time to reach that (or at least a noticeable improvement!). And by the grace of God and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I will.

Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

Is there anything on your “giving up” list this Lent?

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  1. How wonderful! I love that scripture. I run a scripture memory group, which is a group of ladies who I send scripture to once a week and we learn it! We've done that one before, but it may need to make it's way onto the list again!

  2. Oh, that's an AWESOME idea! I wish I knew more verses by memory. And it's much more fun when you've got a whole group doing it together!

  3. I am a catholic, and I always thought that sacrificing an indulgence was a way to prepare for Easter. However, recently I have come to understand this lenten observance in a different way. We are called to pray more, sacrifice something and give alms. So in theory when you give up something (say your daily soda consumption) you should be using the money you didn't spend on soda for something good (like a donation to a food bank). Of course many just do the sacrifice and not the second part.

  4. Oh, thanks for that distinction, Jeanne. I guess I never realized the second part, either. In most of the protestant churches I've attended, they don't normally stress Lent too much to begin with and definitely not that part. But it definitely makes sense. Thanks for sharing!


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