Do you ever look around at the Catholics or Christians in your life and wonder, 'why are they like that'?
Do you ever think we're just too much, politics aside?
Well, buckle up, I'm going hardcore inside-Catholic-baseball here.
Lent is my favourite time of year besides Easter, and you will not tell me that I'm wrong, but I understand if you tell me how extra I am.
People love looking at Lent as a challenge. A personal challenge especially. Lent is neat because you give up something for 40 days and it's hard, but you come out of it a better person who can breathe a breath of fresh air and say, "yes, I totally went 40 days without eating chocolate."
GOOD. FOR. YOU.
No seriously! Lent is hard, and you know what, 40 days is a really long time!
I just finished the Whole 30 last week, and I'll be honest, it was more of a Whole 13, but I tried to stick it out the 30 days. It was a really long time to go through! Lent just makes it a Whole 40! But you know what? You come out less bloated, more energetic, and feel more confident.
But you know what else? That's not why Lent exists.
Lent is not about you.
Lent is about you and God.
Now, am I going to stop you from challenging yourself to better yourself for 40 days? No, I am not. You go for it.
But, may I suggest tuning in a little further?
How can you use your Lenten sacrifice to serve others better?
That's right, I want you to take the hard thing and REALLY not make it about yourself.
It can look like this: I gave up Netflix for Lent. Why? Because, if you know anything about me, you'll see that I have been watching Friends in the background of my life for the past 5 years. When you have that background noise on, it's hard to focus on anything else or feel motivated to get other things done. AND, NETFLIX NEVER REALLY SHUTS OFF. IT JUST LOOPS FOREVER.
So, I gave up Netflix for Lent. The first thing that I usually do when I get home is plopped down on the couch and turn on Netflix just to ease my mind of the day. Dealing with Ross' insecurities or Monica's cleaning obsessions helps me forget my own for an hour or so. Yesterday, I got to my fiance's house and didn't really know what to do with myself. I didn't need to make dinner, and I don't have any books or magazines there, so I reached into my purse and took out my Give Us This Day daily devotional. I flipped to March 13th and said the Morning Prayer for the day - even though it was 4:30 pm.
As I finished praying, Chris walked through the door, and we were able to hang out and wait for some friends to come over.
Taking this time for prayer, rather than Netflix, served God and me in a more significant way.
Lent is my favourite because, yes, it's a challenge. But, it's also not about me. It's about God and me.
If I come out of Lent 30 pounds lighter because I committed to doing the Whole "40", then I've missed the purpose. If I commit to eating better and perhaps serving at a soup kitchen or using my new found energy to help coach a high school sports team, then I am using these talents for the service of others and helping to glorify God.
Have goals during Lent and crush them, but remember to serve a higher purpose in doing so. And remember, the 40 days will come to an end, what is your succession plan afterwards?
Remember, fasting and "giving something up" is not the only pillar of Lent.
We are called to almsgiving and prayer as well.
Update your prayer life! Pray a daily rosary in the car on the way to work or meditate on the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent. You can give alms by volunteering or spending time with those in need. I encourage you to find grand gestures but act within your means. Be extra good at this time of year and show extra compassion - yes, even in traffic.
Try to love Lent. Love it because it's hard. Love it because Christ's love for us is unwavering. Love it because at the end of it, comes Easter. Easter is indeed the best. But, that's another blog post for another day.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you're fasting from in the comment section below! xo