I have been on a real JOURNEY the past few months, moving from spiritual shallowness, to realizing a need for healing in my life, and seeking the resources to obtain that. In the process, I’ve come to see Lent as an opportunity to become
- more whole
- more truly yourself
- more free
which, the saints tell us, means holiness. Yep, the point of Lent is not to leave a dent in chocolate sales; the point is growth in holiness. Here’s 5 tips to help you take advantage of Lent as an opportunity to grow, rather than a random break in your chocolate-eating habits…
1. Sacrifices don’t have to be extraordinary. Giving up chocolate for Lent is an extraordinary way to practice self-control. What about the ordinary things? What usually sets you off? What makes you really tick? Does your co-worker often say or do something annoying? Does your spouse have a habit about which you constantly complain? Your ordinary sacrifice of holding your tongue may be more effective a sacrifice than giving up chocolate.
2. Do what makes you more whole. Have you been working overtime and aching for family time? Have you been putting off seeing a mental health professional? God needs you to be you at your best. When we’re stressed out, overtired, wounded, and weary, we’re weak and more vulnerable to temptation; eventually we’ll let off steam–lose our temper, overindulge, give in to laziness, etc. This Lent, discern what will help you become a better instrument of God’s grace and become stronger against temptation.
3. Pick a Lenten practice that fits your personality. Do you have severe ADHD? Deciding to pray an entire Rosary kneeling at your bedside may not be best for you. Your Lenten practice should not convince you that you’ll never ‘measure up’ in the faith department. What’s something that can actually work, for you, and will challenge you enough to grow? We’re all different. Even canonized saints achieved holiness in a variety of situations, each with their own personal weaknesses and strengths. Speaking of which…
4. Let a saint or two help you. Whether or not you’ve decided what to ‘give up’ or ‘add on’ for Lent, ask God to bring a saint into your life who will intercede for you, encourage you, and generally help you through this Lenten journey. Ask for their prayers frequently; put their picture in a place you’ll see often (fridge, desk, mirror, etc.).
5. Ask for accountability. It takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to grow in holiness! Never was Christianity meant to be a Lone Ranger religion. After choosing your Lenten sacrifice / practice, ask a friend to keep you accountable. Maybe they can call or text: “Did you ____ yet?” Perhaps they can pester you for periodic updates. Whatever their methods, you’ll have to answer to someone else, and that may be the extra motivation you need.
Do you have any tips for a better Lent? Please share!