I think this Wordle of the most common things being given up for Lent (thanks to these guys’ research) is pretty accurate, wouldn’t you say?
Here’s my dilemma: none of the above mentioned items or habits (well, maybe procrastination) really help anyone but myself. While I do believe it is a time to cut down on things that have a negative impact in our lives, I also believe Lent is a time in which our sacrifices should help us draw closer to God (or for those who don’t believe, draw closer to the people around us).
I read something interesting here that made me think, and then rethink, and then think some more (I know, enough with all the thinking!). What it said was: …”that always involves giving up sin in some form. The goal is not just to abstain from sin for the duration of Lent but to root sin out of our lives forever.”
So I decided to get creative, and start thinking beyond the norms of sacrifice for Lent. Here’s what I came up with:
No, I don’t mean give up volunteering; I mean give up your time to help those in need. There are tons of NPOs that are looking for volunteers, not to mention shelters and soup kitchens everywhere that could use an extra set of hands whenever possible. Not your thing? Talk to your family, friends, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, and whoever else you may encounter on a regular basis. Find out if they have any projects they may need help with, and dedicate a portion of your schedule to helping them. For me, this is giving up the sin of selfishness.
Say No When You Really Want to Say Yes
I find its very easy to tell someone yes when they offer you an opportunity to get away from the work you have due the next day, and go out for a drink or two. But try, even if you don’t have work due the next day, to politely decline the invitation, no matter how good it may seem. Use that time to call a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with, or pray, or get ahead in your work so that you can say yes the next time an opportunity comes up. Let’s try practicing self- discipline, and avoiding self- indulgence.
Say Yes When You Really Want To Say No
When you’ve got a million things that need to get done, and your mind is racing, and you just don’t think you can take on anything else, stop and help that person that’s asking you for a small favor. More often than not, it will only take a few minutes, and the other person will be incredibly grateful. The sin of busyness is tricky, considering the fact that deadlines do need to be met. However, breaks are healthy, and why not use one to help someone else?
These are just a few ideas to ponder over as we get started in the Lenten season. I know I’ll definitely be trying my best to engage in all three of these suggestions, starting with signing up to volunteer at The Mid-Ohio Foodbank. I hope you decide to do the same!
Or….better yet….what are some other suggestions you may have for giving up, or just giving, this Lent?