Giving More for Lent

Growing up Catholic, the beginning of the Lenten season always meant exchanging different ideas of what I was going to sacrifice. My friends and family members made promises to give up chocolate, social media, certain TV shows or other various things that would likely cause them some feeling of deprivation, but overall be an adjustment for the better. They wouldn’t always hold to their promises as they hoped to, but these sacrifices still signified switches made to reflect on the nature of sacrifice and devoting ourselves to improving through self-discipline. Ultimately, outside of a couple slip-ups or exceptions to their sacrifice, what the people around me give up for this period of time usually also brings a desired change into their lives, something that makes them feel better and healthier overall. 

Through the years, I gave up a wide range of items for Lent, many of which were incorporated into my everyday life. As the Lenten season approached this year, however, I found myself facing roadblocks when it came to choosing something to cut off from my life. I think this stems from the feeling of deprivation so many of us have when it comes to adjusting to pandemic restrictions in the past year. In this world of uncertainty, it’s sometimes the little things, like a certain dessert food, TV show, or even a morning coffee, that can make our days a little brighter.

I was still unsure how to navigate my Lenten sacrifice when I was talking to another girl in my dorm, who mentioned that she planned to visit The Grotto every week during Lent to pray and reflect. While this wasn’t the answer I was expecting, it was one that resonated with me and sparked a new understanding of how I could approach Lent. I started to consider that perhaps focusing on developing positive habits is a healthier way for me to grow and reflect this season and this year. 

woman looking at the trees in front of the sun Photo by Leon Biss from Unsplash

Developing positive habits during Lent means being actionable and intentional with your time. Some positive habits you could aim for include taking time to regularly exercise, setting aside time to spend with others, devoting time to service, affirming those around you, making a commitment to practicing your faith everyday and reflecting or simply starting or ending your day with gratitude. These positive habits can help relieve yourself of negativity and spread positivity to those around you. If you feel healthier, more mindful, and more compassionate in your everyday life, then that energy will radiate to those around you and raise their spirits as well. 

While the idea of developing positive habits and practices during Lent may not initially signify the same sacrifice we usually associate with giving up chocolate or coffee, I believe that it is still a very important, and perhaps more meaningful, sacrifice because it is giving the gift of yourself. Inevitably, when you take time to practice gratitude and compassion for others, or devote moments to developing your faith and spirituality, you are reorganizing your priorities and time management to make room for meaningful and purposeful action.

Desk with stationary, an agenda, pens, paperclips, and a binder clip Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

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