Lent serves as a time of sacrifice, when Christians choose to give up certain comforts for 40 days before Easter. It is meant to be a reminder of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before he died and rose again for our sins.
Choosing what to give up for Lent, which begins Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, is no easy task. After all, nobody truly LIKES to refrain from luxuries for an extended period. I am not proud to say that I’ve never fully committed to the practice of sacrificing a specific comfort for Lent. I’ve seen some friends and family members give up things like chocolate, Facebook, and some REALLY brave people who have even given up coffee during this 40-day period before Easter. I’ve never decided on anything for myself.
This year, I want to commit. There are five things I’m going to attempt to refrain from this season of Lent—and I hope EVERYONE can benefit from this list.
1. The morning social media and email scroll
It’s SO easy to give in to this temptation, especially if your phone doubles as your alarm clock. I mean hey, the Instagram and mail apps are right there—one little peak as you wake up won’t hurt, right? WRONG. The morning is a precious time that should be used for communion with God.
When we immediately allow ourselves to get sucked into the frenzy of our work emails or the allure of social media, it disrupts the peace we COULD be receiving from God. He asks us to come to Him with our full attention. If we take time in the morning to talk with Him BEFORE the inevitable daily distractions and stresses arise, it will give us a refreshed mind and spirit.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)
Easier said than done, I know. Everyone gossips. Many of us use it as a bonding mechanism with others, thinking it’s harmless – but it is not. When the gossip machine starts to roll, redirect the conversation. You will be amazed by how much better you feel when you walk away.
One practical way to refrain from gossip is to ask Jesus to help us when we face this temptation.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Venting can oftentimes go hand-in-hand with gossip, but these two things are not interchangeable. I’m personally often tempted to vent about my circumstances (not that I have any excuse—I have a great job and an amazing husband) but hey, we all do it! We not only accept venting in our society—we encourage it. I’ve caught myself telling friends, “It’s OK, you just have to vent sometimes.”
I don’t think I’ve ever felt better after a “vent session.” Most times, my complaining just works me up into a state of total frustration and hopelessness. Through Bible studies and Christian fellowship, I’ve slowly but surely learned that venting can be combatted with a grateful attitude. I’ve been amazed how quickly my mindset has changed when I’ve given thanks to God for my circumstances, even when I felt miserable.
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15).
4. Constant control
Christianity is often very counterintuitive. Jesus taught us that in order to find our lives, we must lose them. This concept applies to every aspect of our lives, even our daily routines. This lent, we can all benefit by offering our day, every day, to God. Say a prayer and ask Jesus to let His will be done in your life. Give up your need to control everything, and offer control to Him.
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22-26)
I used to believe that being a Christian meant that I had to have everything in my life figured out. As I’ve gotten to know Jesus, He has taught me that I was missing the entire point of having a relationship with Him.
Being a Christian means that you DON’T have to be perfect—you realize that you not only CAN’T achieve perfection, but that you don’t have to, because someone perfect died for you to cover your imperfection. Allow yourself to lean on Him for comfort, support, and direction.
“Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;” (1 Peter 3:18)