It is that time of year again! For those Christians who participate in Lent, it is the six-week period of reflection and preparation for Easter, the holiday which acknowledges that Jesus died on the cross to forgive us sinners, and then He rose from the dead to announce that those who follow God will have eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Lenten season is supposed to be a time where we decide to sacrifice or give up certain things we love or enjoy, as well as a time where we perform acts of kindness and service. Here are some things to give up or start doing for Lent:
1. Stop Eating Fast Food
As we all know, fast food may be really convenient, but it is typically not the healthiest food for us to be eating. Try to avoid fast food restaurants during lent, but if you absolutely cannot, try to pick healthier options on the menu, such as salads or burgers without the bun.
2. Refrain From Drinking Pop
This is probably the hardest one for me personally. I enjoy the carbonation from pop and also like the way it tastes, but it is super unhealthy for us. If you are eliminating pop during lent, focus on drinking more water or try carbonated water like La Croix…if it is your first time drinking carbonated or sparkling water, I can guarantee you will feel extremely dissatisfied because it is basically carbonation with a very small hint of flavor, but it will get better.
3. Limit Social Media Use
As a society we are so addicted to our social media. When we have down time at work, are in the bathroom, or are bored we instantly turn to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. If you are one of those people constantly turning to social media every chance you get, this will be very hard for you. Keep in mind that the harder the sacrifices are that you make, the more you will get out of Lent!
4. Stop Swearing
This is a bad habit of mine that I am trying to get rid of anyways, but I feel that giving it up during Lent will help me accomplish that goal. If you decide to give up swearing for Lent, hold yourself accountable by acknowledging when you slip up. Also try to use other words to express the strong feelings you have when you are most tempted to swear.
5. Quit Complaining
We are all guilty of complaining when things don't go our way and complaining also tends to give us an unpleasant attitude. Try to catch yourself when you are about to complain about something. Instead of complaining about what is wrong in your life, count all of the blessings you have in the life God has given you. Eliminating complaining and negative thoughts will help you feel happier and less stressed.
6. Spend More Time With Loved Ones
We are all so busy with work, school, and any additional activities or obligations we have to the point where we don't make enough time for the people we love. During Lent, try to visit friends and family members who you haven't seen in a while and catch up. You will be glad you did.
7. Volunteer In Your Community
Performing acts of service is one of the best ways to serve God. When we are selfless and do things for others, we are showing God that we value more lives than just our own. Some good volunteer opportunities may be working in a soup kitchen, helping with a food drive, assist families in your community that may be struggling, donate blood, assist in hospitals, or donate your time or money to crisis centers and shelters. The ways you can give back to your community are endless!
8. Get Healthy
We should treat our bodies in the best ways we possibly can by being healthy. When trying to be healthy, one should focus on not only physical health, but mental health as well. Good physical and mental health are equally important. To become healthier physically, be sure to have a proper diet and exercise. To become healthier mentally, do whatever is necessary for you to have a healthy state of mind, whether that be expressing your emotions, opening up to others about troubling and unfortunate things you may encounter, or being honest with yourself that you may need help to get to a place where you have a healthy mindset. Take care of yourself! Love yourself!
9. Attend Church More
Of course there are many people out there who are outstanding Christians and never miss a single mass or service on Sundays. Then there are some of us who go when we can, and some of us who only attend on holidays. While attending church when we can is better than not ever attending, Sunday is considered a holy day and those of us who do not attend church very often should try to improve on our attendance. Being in the house of God can only strengthen our relationship with Him more!
10. Donate And/Or Bring Awareness To Social Issues
There are many issues in the world, some of which are greatly affecting the quality of life for many people (immigration, racism, human trafficking, poverty, education, abortions, etc.). Get informed on a particular social issue and learn about the multiple stances that surround it. Form your own educated stance and give back to that cause by donating to organizations that support your stance or by being an advocate on that issue.
Lent is a time to work on yourself and your faith. Take these six weeks to reflect on what it means to be a child of God and find ways in which you can serve Him through sacrifices, acts of kindness, and acts of service.