40 Calls: My Favorite Lenten Practice

When Lent rolls around, many people choose to give something up--candy, social media, or any bad habit you just can’t quit. Up until last year, I did the same exact thing. One year I gave up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (which was painfully difficult), and in another year I gave up pizza. In 2018, I tried something different. Instead of giving up an item or type of food, I decided to act. I decided that every day of Lent, I would call someone that was either in my life at the time or at some time in the past, and tell them why I appreciate them. It was a chance for me to reach out to old friends, catch up with extended family, and even just have more meaningful conversations with people I see every day.

 

I started by writing out a list of forty people I would call, from my best friends from high school to my parents, to the girl I was closest with on my u16 hockey team. I tried my best to call one a day, but if the stress of school took over and I found I didn’t have the time to put as much effort into a call, I would wait and do two the next day. I just made sure that I called all forty by the end of Lent.

In all honesty, I didn’t even think about how people would react to these phone calls. I mean of course I hoped they would be happy--the whole point was to make someone’s day a bit better--but the thought that they would feel weirded out by it hadn’t occurred to me until one of my friends at school asked me if anyone had been. Luckily, no one was. Even people I hadn’t spoken to for years were touched by the call rather than uncomfortable.

 

Throughout the process, I realized that these calls didn’t just affect the people I talked to – they affected me as well. It was amazing for me to be able to express to people how they had inspired me or made me feel during certain points in my life. It was just as amazing to know that I could make people understand that they’re loved and appreciated as well. I realized that people don’t say what’s on their mind enough. We have these feelings for and about people, and most of the time we keep them to ourselves. Why? Maybe because we’re afraid or because we think they won’t care. After my experience, I feel it’s much more important to put yourself out there and say what’s on your mind than to worry about what they’d think.

 

At the end of the forty calls I was sad it was over, but happy that I had made the decision to try something new. It was an incredibly rewarding experience. This year for Lent, I returned to giving something up. And while I have nothing against it, I miss calling people. Comparing this Lent to the last has made me realize that I want to continue letting people know I love and appreciate them. As cheesy as it sounds, life is short, and that’s something I’ve noticed repeatedly over this past year. So I think I’m gonna make a tradition out of these forty calls. I think every year for Lent I’m going to remind the people in my life how thankful I am for them; because trust me, they deserve to hear it. Everyone does.

 

Images courtesy of the author.