What Should You Give Up for Lent? A More Intentional Approach
A reflection on discerning your lenten fasts by Ana Redington
Lent is beginning, and with so much on our minds, it’s all too easy to default to the same thing we give up every year or to forget to pick a fast altogether. If you are anything like me, many years you find yourself googling “what to give up for lent?” and then trying to find a random thing you have never given up before. This year, let us take a few moments to be more intentional about our choice. So how can we do this?
No matter what stage of life you are in, you have been given some vocation. Yes, of course, we have our larger vocations such as married or religious life or the consecrated single life, but what I am talking about today could be referring to these OR to a smaller, temporary vocation such as being a student, employee, or even a good friend.
I want you to consider one of two things:
1) What vocation/role are you preparing to enter into?
2) What vocation/role do you currently have that you could grow in?
Now with one of these two things in mind, let’s explore what we could do to enhance our ability to carry out these callings.
For myself, I am preparing to get married (in less than a month actually), and I know that I want to prepare to be the best wife and mother that I can be. Perhaps you are discerning religious life, and you want to cultivate the virtues you will need to live this out. Perhaps you are in dental school and preparing to be a dentist. Perhaps you are beginning your new job as a middle school teacher. Maybe you have been struggling with discipline in your role as a student. Whatever your unique life situation might be, the Lord is calling us to grow now, whether for the sake of the future or for the sake of the present. So ask the Lord this lent, “Are there any bad habits, laziness, or distractions You want to weed out of me that are hindering my vocation?”
I’ll share an example. I plan to become a teacher next year, and as such, I will have to wake up pretty early. As a newly married woman with a husband who I know will want his sleep, pressing the snooze button seven times every morning is bound to get on his nerves (especially at 5:30 am… who can blame him?) So in preparation for both marriage and teaching, I feel called to give up the “snooze” button this lent. The Lord is challenging me to die to myself for the sake of my future husband. Although waking up at my first alarm is difficult, this gives me a beautiful opportunity to offer up a small sacrifice out of love. I have confidence the Lord will use this to grow my heart and help me prepare to be a wife.
This may have been a very specific example, but I hope you can see how it applies to you. Most of us have those little habits, crutches, or a type of disorganization in our lives that hinders us from living out our vocations in the best possible way. To grow in our vocation, our lenten fast could be quicker showers, always putting your dish in the sink after using it, putting your phone away an hour before bed, not drinking soda, no online shopping, always making your bed, no Tik-Tok or instagram, or a number of other things. Take a moment to pray about whatever God is placing on your heart.
Even if you did not resonate with any of these examples, I hope that the spirit of this blog post still inspires you - to choose your lenten fast not because it’s convenient or simple, but because it will make you a better wife, husband, sister, father, teacher, doctor, co-worker, politician, or student, and most importantly, because it will make you a better disciple of Christ.
Know my prayers are with you as you discern! Good luck!
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