Somehow the start of Lent often seems to sneak up on us, even in years like this one where it doesn’t begin until March.
If you’re like me, you might find yourself scrambling to think of what you should take up as a Lenten sacrifice. In years when I’m still trying to decide on a Lenten sacrifice on Fat Tuesday, my choice doesn’t usually end up being extremely fruitful.
Just what type of sacrifices are the most fruitful? Sacrifices should be somewhat uncomfortable for us and therefore help strengthen us in self-denial and love of God. But they can also be something that will help us improve ourselves.
For instance, one of my family members has told me he plans to take up the task of writing a novel this Lent. That’s something he’s felt inclined to do but has been putting off for years.
Sometimes it takes something like a penitential season and a love of God to get us where we need to be.
So this Lent, try one of these ideas to help your dating life become the best it can be.
1. Offer up a goal to work on what’s holding you back
We might not all be able to pinpoint immediately the specific trouble spots in our lives that are holding us back from finding a fulfilling relationship. But a bit of soul-searching might shed light on a good area to work on this Lent.
For some people, this might mean working on an aspect that leaves them feeling less than confident.
Perhaps it’s an aspect of our physical appearance that we’ve wanted to work on. A resolution to start exercising regularly or to eat healthier might help out here — it could give a whole new dimension to giving up sweets for Lent.
For some of us, the thing holding us back most might be anything but external. Sometimes the struggle to let go of pain or damage from past bad relationships can be a huge roadblock. But the path to healing isn’t always easy to begin.
If this is the boat you fall in, consider offering up a plan to begin counseling. Perhaps Lent is the push you need to get you in a therapy room pouring out the troubles you’ve kept inside for years.
2. Improve on the things that keep you from connecting
I know a lot of people give up social media for Lent. They feel it takes up too much of their time and they should be using that time for more important things.
This is a great Lenten sacrifice for some people. But not for everyone.
There are two really good ways to change the way you use social media if you want your dating life to change for the better.
On the one hand, if you don’t want to give social media up entirely, start viewing it as a way to connect with people.
Try reaching out to people you haven’t spoken to in years — not even just in a romantic way. Even platonic friendships can help you work on the basic friendship skills that make romantic relationships strong.
The other thing to consider sacrificing when it comes to social media is using it on your phone. For a lot of us introverts, looking at our phones is the perfect way to avoid interacting with other people.
If this sounds like you, resolve to give up looking at your phone as you wait in line, as you sit in a waiting room, as you hide from the possibility of an awkward interaction with someone.
That potential interaction might be awkward. But it might also turn out be perfectly romantic, the start of your future relationship. Or it could be the perfect awkward anecdote to break the ice on a date with someone else in the future.
3. Refocus your prayer life toward your future vocation
Sometimes we can overlook our prayer lives when it comes to Lenten sacrifice. We can be so concerned with whether we’re going to go all out and give up our dessert or not that we might forget the most essential way to have a fruitful Lent.
Improving our prayer life can look like a lot of different things, depending on what our prayer life looks like right now.
For some, it might be the resolution to finally start praying that daily rosary. For others, it might be a weekly holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Resolving to go to daily Mass when possible is a great idea as well.
But a good focus to bring to an increased prayer life during our single years can be an intentional concentration on asking God to lead us to our future spouse, and asking Him to show us what He wants our future to look like.
It can be feel very discouraging when there is no future spouse in sight, as if maybe God doesn’t really have a great future in mind for us at all. But this isn’t true. He wants each of us to be happy.
So spend this Lent asking him to give you a glimpse of his love for you and his desire for you to have a happy life.