Lent: More than self-help

Lent: More than self-help

Every year on Ash Wednesday people give something up in order to observe Lent. Although this may be mostly identified with the Catholic Church, many Christians outside of the Catholic Church participate as well.

The purpose of Lent is to fast some type of vice and replace it with prayer, reading, and even giving to the poor. The focus is spiritual. It remembers how Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert before being tempted and setting on his mission. Thus, these forty days should be used as a time to also strengthen our relationship with God in order to resist temptations and prepare our hearts for Easter.

Every year I see people give up vices like chocolate or soda. In fact, the current top 15 things people are giving up on Twitter is mostly food. While this may be a good thing, I can’t help but notice that it is used as some type of diet. Don’t get me wrong, taking care of your body is very important, but one should check one’s heart and motives in order to find the right vice that will bring them closer to the Lord. Perhaps you could take the money spent on the Starbucks you are giving up and tithe it or give it to a charity instead… or say a scripture your trying to memorize anytime you begin craving chocolate.

Others are giving up laziness, procrastination, negativity, etc. All of these are good things to give up as long as it is actually going to bring you closer to God and not just used as a self-help system. Perhaps you can lent laziness by getting up earlier each morning to have morning devotion and prayer with God.

Really, just about anything goes. As a matter of fact, there is a new trend of giving up school or homework for lent! As a teacher, I cannot condone this (and neither does Jesus)!

Last year I gave up Facebook. This was a great fast as I was very addicted to the social media site. However, I am very ashamed to say that I did not replace it with anything that would bring me closer to God. I did not read or pray more, nor did I use it to remember the Lord more.

For this reason, I have chosen to give up biting my nails this year. I know, I know, this seems like a silly lent. But I have my reasons.

Through much self reflection, I have come to realize that biting my nails is an outward manifestation of my lack of trust in God. I typically bite my nails when I am stressed out or deep in thought (it happens a lot). Fasting from biting my nails will cause me to remember the Lord and His faithfulness each and every time I become stressed. Every time I want to bite my nails, I will instead make a conscious decision to trust God and seek His guidance. (Not to mention it is also better for my health and my babies health).

Will fasting chocolate do this for you? Or maybe fasting Facebook or T.V.? Will your fast bring you closer to God, His will for your life, and help you to love Him and love others more? Or will it simply serve as a diet or be a self-help system?

I hope you take this season of lent as more than just a time to shed some pounds (and please do your homework!). I hope we can all benefit from this fast as it brings us closer to the Lord!


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