Is anyone else as excited for Lent as I am? After the cold, dark and dreary days of January and February, I can honestly say that having forty days to focus on a specific purpose sounds amazing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. Time with family at Thanksgiving is awesome. The lights and decorations leading up to Jesus’ birthday are instant mood lifters.
But once the new year has come and gone, like most people, I find that the days drag. Lent comes at that perfect time when even forty days of sacrifice sounds better than forty days of limbo.
I even look forward to receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday. Call me crazy, but the feeling of instant unity when passing other previously ashed people in the grocery store is a joyful one.
So what should we be doing this Lent?
What are some ways we can enter into this sacrificial season and really grow in our relationship with Christ while dying to self?
Read on for some ways to continue to take Lent by storm!
1. Give up sweets
As cliche as this may sound, you’d be surprised at how many few people really do this. I was raised in a family that automatically discontinued desserts once Lent began.
Imagine my surprise when I arrived at a Catholic college where everyone was enjoying cookies even during the most solemn time of the year!
Big deal? Maybe not. But there is something to be said about depriving yourself of one of life’s simplest pleasures.
2. Stop talking about yourself
Without realizing it, we often spend copious amounts of time talking about our own lives. Have you ever found yourself on a date or in an online dating conversation where the whole thing is one sided?
No one likes a conversation that focuses too much on one individual. Since we are supposed to be dying to ourselves during Lent, this is a wonderful time to turn your attention to other people.
Read more: 99 Questions to Ask on a First Date
Each time you catch yourself turning the conversation back to you, quickly redirect it back to the other person.
3. Let go of unnecessary purchases
Yes, we all need groceries and to pay our utilities. But what are the things you spend money on just because? Identify some of these things and for this Lent, donate the money you would have spent on them to a charity of your choice.
Having a hard time identifying areas of frivolous spending? Do you often purchase any of these:
- A morning coffee
- Donuts or biscuits on the way to work
- Clothes or jewelry
- Vending machine items
You may be surprised at how much you’ll be able to donate!
4. Pray for an enemy
One of my friends posted on Facebook that for Lent she is praying each day for a person that has hurt her in some way.
Wow, talk about hard!
Every week (or every day even!) this Lent, choose someone who has hurt you in some way. Pray for them and think of them fondly.
5. Give thanks for the gift of being single
It’s easy to moan and groan about being single, but do you ever stop and give thanks for the blessings that being single affords you?
Read more: 14 Ways to Take Advantage of Being Single
Lent is a good time to give thanks to God for the things you are able to do and the person you’re able to be during this season of your life.
6. Give up Facebook
Mindless scrolling, getting involved in needless drama, and getting down about all the negativity in the world right now.
Social media can be great, but it is also a big distraction. If you really want to enter into Lent with a sacrificial mentality, let go of all of the needless distractions of one of the biggest social media sites.
7. Go to daily Mass
This may not sound like a sacrifice, until you think of how hard it is to realistically get to daily Mass.
Do you have a job that affords you flexibility?
Do you have access to a Church where Mass is offered in the evenings during Lent?
If you can find a way to spend more time with Jesus, it’s worth sacrificing a little bit of free time each day.
8. Let go of negativity
How many times a day do you find yourself complaining about something or thinking negatively?
Try weeding out negativity during Lent and you will be surprised at how often your thoughts can go to a negative place.
Replace that negative thought with a prayer and watch your entire mood improve!
9. Give up music in the car
If you’re anything like me, music in the car is constant. I can’t think of the last time I got into my car and didn’t have a radio station or CD singing back at me.
This Lent, try radio silence when you drive. You’ll be amazed at the extra time for prayer and self reflection that you’ll suddenly have.
10. Trade Netflix for the rosary
The Rosary is one of the most powerful prayers there is. Often life gets so busy that we don’t realize that we actually have the time to pray, we just don’t take it.
For this penitential season, swap television time for five decades of the rosary. Sacrificing a little bit of entertainment will bring a tremendous amount of joy as you meet Jesus and his mother in the mysteries of this most beautiful prayer.
11. Replace Friday night social outings with Stations of the Cross
Going out to dinner is fun, but if you really want to enter into Lent, spend Friday evenings walking the path that Jesus traveled.
Most Churches offer the stations every Friday in Lent.
A bonus? You can go eat and socialize at the parish fish fry while you’re there!
12. Trade in fiction for Scripture
Have you ever read an entire Gospel? If not, the Gospel of Mark is a great place to start.
The most concise account of Jesus’ life, this Gospel is a central part of the Lenten story. If you want to get close to Jesus, meeting him in Scripture is a great place to start.
Meet Jesus in the tough spots
This Lent, by sacrificing the little things, you’ll be able to focus on the bigger more important things. Your relationship with God and His purpose for you are some of those things.
Meet him in the silence and see what he has in store for you. He’s always there, waiting to tell you.
You just have to tune out the noise of the worldly things long enough to hear him.