Growing up, I have always struggled with deciding what to give up for Lent. When I was younger, I never ate much candy, junk food or soda, so I had to come up with something different than the usual choices. Around the time I started high school, I went to mass one weekend at my local college’s Church. In the pews, there were these little cards that said, “don’t give up chocolate for Lent!” As someone who has struggled to find meaning in giving small things up like chocolate, the card really caught my attention.
The card invited me to subscribe to a program called Dynamic Catholic that would send me daily reflections delivered to my email inbox each morning throughout Lent. As a morning person, the first minutes of the day are some of the best and have the power to set the tone for the entire day. I loved the idea of receiving a faith-based and uplifting talk each day that provided practical suggestions I could incorporate into my own Lenten experience. The entire experience ended up being really positive, and I have since added this into my Lenten practices each year. The program also exists for Advent, and they even have a daily quote you can subscribe to as well.
This year, I wondered if I should give up desserts or maybe go to mass every day. (Whether related or not, I have actually gone to mass almost every single day this Lent). I ended up choosing to implement a new policy of intentionally considering others and their actions with grace. In other words, I attempted to give up getting annoyed. This policy means that, when I get woken up in the middle of the night because my roommate who is a night-owl is up late and getting ready for bed, I think, “I’m so glad she got her work done and is finally getting some rest.” A few days ago, this meant changing my mental dialogue when someone near me was chewing loudly to, “I’m glad they are nourishing their body.”
At first glance, it may seem like I am overcompensating. While that may be a fair statement, by framing my thoughts more positively towards others around me, I am genuinely considering that person and their actions with grace. This Lenten journey has not been an easy one. It is too easy to get annoyed at a hundred little things throughout the day, but that is also why this change is so impactful. It means that we have the power to change a lot of moments into intentionally positive and virtuous ones.
Since taking on this policy, I have had more energy because I am no longer exerting it on unproductive, negative thoughts. I have found myself feeling happier and more fulfilled because I know I am mentally treating others with the grace they deserve as human beings. This Lent has made for a change of mind and heart, and I hope it may have inspired you to someday try the same. Keep loving yourself and others always.
Here’s a link to sign up for the daily reflections: https://www.dynamiccatholic.com/daily-reflections.html
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