Monday, February 9, 2015

5 Things to Do for Lent

So it’s about time we start thinking about what to do for Lent, right? You could go to your old standbys of giving up chocolate, or candy, or coffee, but those are starting to feel a little worn out, and you’re looking for something to really shake up your interior life. Here are five ideas for things you could do for 40 days:

(1) Read a section of the Bible…thoroughly.
I’ve done failed the New Year’s Resolution of “read the whole Bible” before, and it doesn’t work out well over the course of a year, and I definitely don’t think it would go well in 40 days (or 46, counting Sundays - whatever).

It’s much more worthwhile, I think, to do something like, read St. Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, or read St. Peter’s letters, or read St James’ letters, or read the Gospel of John.
To be perfectly clear, the goal is not to say you’ve read those books of the Bible. It’s to absorb them. If you finish, start over and read them again.
(2) Copy something from the Bible.
A couple of weeks ago, I became acquainted with the idea of hand copying scripture to spend time meditating on it, absorbing it, and making notes. This is on my list this year. I’ve started with Galatians, and I’m planning to (hopefully) finish it and keep going after I’m done, even after Lent, maybe, if it goes well.
 (3) Give up complaining about that person.
There is somebody in your life that you’re supposed to love who makes themselves difficult to love. You know the person I’m talking about. That frienemy that you love to hate. That relative whose favorite pastime is arguing with you. That person who really hurt you that you’re holding a grudge against. That person on Facebook who is always wrong and refuses to listen.

Or maybe it’s a group of people that really get your goat. Like I don’t like rude drivers of large vehicles, or activists on certain political subjects.  Give up complaining about them for 40 days, and refraining from whining about them when they annoy you becomes much easier, also.

I’ve done this one before, and it worked out really well. My relationship with this person was vastly improved by that Lent.

It had the added bonus that I developed a thicker skin when I came to this person, and I found that I had fewer reasons to complain, at least for a good, long while.

No, I have never told my person that I gave up complaining about them for Lent, nor do I suggest you do so. Unnecessary hurt feelings and whatnot. This person never did stop being themselves, (aw, darn them!) and I think I might be due to do it again.
(4) Give up indulging that emotion.
A friend of mine once expressed amusement that one of our mutual acquaintances for giving up “anger” for Lent. “How can you give up an entire emotion? You can’t just decide not to feel that way,” was her comment.

The short answer is, “No, you can’t.”

The longer answer is, “…but you can learn how to diffuse it in yourself, so it doesn’t grow to be sinful.” Anger, left unchecked, can grow to be wrath, which is one of the seven deadly sins. Taking action to keep yourself clear away from the near occasion of sin makes that a great thing to do for Lent.

Do you find yourself wallowing in any one emotion? Give up indulging it for Lent.
(5) Fast from social media.
Admittedly, this isn’t much of a fast for me. (Unless, of course, we're talking about Pinterest. Then I might be in trouble!). However, a lot of my friends live tethered to their devices because they just have to see the latest buzz on Facebook. You might discover - like I did, but not during Lent - that Facebook really makes you more miserable than it’s worth.
I found that some people who were my “friends”, and who I even talked to regularly in real life, are just jerks to others on the internet. (Though, I was somewhat relieved when these people decided that they no longer wanted to be my friend on Facebook.)
Another potential benefit is developing a greater “true intimacy” with your friends - because in order to be in contact with them you have to *gasp* call them! And *gasp again* talk to them!
Dude! I totally just realized that the last time I posted on Facebook was in November - though, to be fair, I almost posted something last week. (Maybe I should let poor Facebook know that I haven’t died!)
So, there you have it. My five great ideas for things to do for Lent. Have you had any unusual Lent ideas come your way? What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever done for Lent?

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