Lent is here! (Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!)
Last year I gave up makeup and found the experience really helpful. There are several products I never added back into my routine because I realized that I could live happily while wearing less makeup. So many of my grooming habits were/are holdovers from the insecurities and bad advice of my teenage years. It felt nice to take back control.
Traditionally, the purpose of giving something is up is to make more room for God and spiritual practice. Some people choose to take something on – like meditation, prayer, or a gratitude practice – instead of giving something up. But I find that the major “sin” in my life, the thing that gets me off track and makes me feel spiritually unwell, is taking on more than I can or should, which adds a lot of anxiety and self doubt into my life that overcrowds my mental space, making it nearly impossible to feel grateful.
I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately, on how adding more and more responsibilities into our limited schedules takes away our capacity to cultivate and nourish meaningful conversations and relationships. Until last weekend, I hadn’t called my parents in a month. And I find that when I’m busy I’m less able to listen well to the needs of my friends, coworkers, and customers. Busy-ness is a not a virtue.
Basically what I’m saying is that I really need to give something up, and never look back.
What I’m Giving Up For Lent
This year I’ve decided to give up checking my phone. Originally, I was going to give up Instagram, but I realized that the main issue is my emotional. habitual attachment to checking my email, twitter, facebook, and Instagram from my smartphone when I’m out and about or sitting on the couch. I plan to delete most of these platforms from my phone and practice self control whenever the urge strikes to run through the list of things to check.
I will be on Instagram sparingly to let people know about new posts, as I’ve made a few commitments to companies during the season that require social media shares. Plus, I recognize that Instagram provides an easier platform for commenting if you’re checking my blog from your phone. That being said, scrolling endlessly and checking for notifications every 20 minutes will not be allowed.
If I’m successful, I think this practice will help me get back a lot of wasted hours, calm my mind, and help me focus better. I want my mind to be less distracted so I can pay attention to all the little things that make up a full life.
How to Participate in Lent
If you’re interested in giving something up for Lent, it’s simple! Do some soul searching about your everyday vices that make you feel spiritually unwell and commit to making a change. Daniel is giving up meat and gluttony. I know other people who go on shopping fasts.
The important thing is not to frame it around self-improvement but to see what you’re doing through the lens of the big picture, whether that’s wholeness with God or a better understanding of your role in the big, wide world. Lent is about inward reflection, but it’s also about directing what you learn outward. Don’t stay in your head.
Historically, Lent lasts for about 40 days and excludes Sundays (because Sundays are considered “mini Easters.”). It’s up to you if you want to fast on Sundays, as well. I find it easier to maintain the habit if I totally abstain, but you can still make your Sundays celebratory as a reminder of the reconciliation and redemption that awaits us all.
Lent ends, on Good Friday, March 30th.
Are you giving anything up this year?