The Lenten season has begun. For those of you who may not know, Lent is a season of forty days, which begins on Ash Wednesday (last week, Wednesday 14th February) and ends on Holy Saturday. It is typically observed by Christians. The forty-day period represents the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness, where he endured temptations and made preparations to begin his ministry.
For many Christians, Lent is a time of fasting, repentance and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection for the purpose of spiritual renewal. What this simply means is that Lent is a period for believers to refocus on what is important in life to help us become better versions of ourselves.
If it is not yet clear, I am a Christian. Growing up, every year we observed Lent and the usual traditions. However, in the last few years, my adherence to these traditions has waned. This is probably because I moved away from home, moved to a different country, and got caught up in the stressful life of university and law school. But I have been finished with formal education for over a year now and I can no longer use it as an excuse. So this year I intend to observe Lent, just not in the customary form.
There is no one right way to observe Lent. Similarly, there is no one right way to worship God. What counts, in my opinion, is the sincerity of your intentions.
The Lenten Sacrifice
Lent is characterized by fasting and the making of a sacrifice or two. Now I’m not talking Old Testament human/animal sacrifice. No. In today’s world, “human sacrifices” are considered murder. If you would like to avoid prison or the hangman’s noose, let’s keep our sacrifices simple.
A Lenten sacrifice is something that you give up or abstain from partaking in that would normally bring you pleasure. The purpose of this is to avoid daily distractions so that we can better focus on improving ourselves and our relationship with God. A customary symbol of this sacrifice is the abstinence from eating meat on Fridays during the Lenten season.
What you choose to give up is entirely dependent on your choice and lifestyle. For example, it is usual to find children and teenagers giving up sweets, soda, chocolate, or watching television for Lent. These are things and activities enjoyed by younger people which tend to distract and/or consume some of them in their daily lives. You would not normally find an adult giving up the same things as children (like watching cartoons). Adults would be more likely to give up things like alcohol, sex, partying, and other pleasurable activities. Thus, your sacrifice is dependent on your age, maturity, health and lifestyle.
However, it is not always necessary to give up something. In fact, your sacrifice can be in the form of service to others. For example, you can spend some quality time with older members of your family or volunteer at a charity.
If you intend to observe Lent but you aren’t sure of what to sacrifice, I have compiled a list of ten simple things you can do to observe the season. Click here to download the FREE checklist.
How will I observe Lent?
So what will I be sacrificing? Well, as I mentioned earlier, I intend to observe Lent but just not in the usual form. So rather than give up something physical like food or an activity, I intend to give up an attitude – negativity.
While most people resume the conduct or thing that they gave up for Lent after Easter, this year I will not be doing so. Negativity is a crippling disease that can warp your mind and body. Sounds drastic … because it is! I will not resume it. I will not let it back into my life.
Now, I know that it won’t be easy giving up something that has affected me considerably. I am human and I will slip up. But I fully intend to work at it daily. I also am aware that ‘negativity’ is a very wide and all-inclusive attitude encompassing ‘sub negatives’ like anger, vengeance and self-pity. My aim is to rid myself of all of them rather than single them out individually. I would rather attack the root of a problem rather than simply pruning the branches.
In giving up negativity, it will better enable me to foster positive thoughts and adopt a very needed spirit of forgiveness. My main aim is to gain peace so that I can make myself a better person, who would be better able to serve others and God.
How about you? Will you be observing Lent and giving up anything? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
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