Not only have Wednesdays been nicknamed "hump day", but this particular Wednesday is extra special. Today is Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent! Ash Wednesday, in many Christian traditions, is a day of reflection and repentance. As you go about your day, you might notice some individuals styling a cross drawn on their foreheads in ash. In all honesty, I haven't ever really participated or taken Lent seriously and have been questioned by many on what Lent is all about. And so, the thought of having a blog post dedicated to this topic not only seemed to be appropriate, but I hope it to be informative and a enjoyable read.
What is Lent?
Lent is "marked" by a period of time that starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday celebrates the start of Jesus' 40-day journey of fasting and temptation in the dessert (see Matthew 4:1-11). Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus' resurrection from the grave after his crucifixion.
How do individuals celebrate Lent?
This really varies from person to person and from church to church. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate, and it certainly is not required to take part in! In the past, I have gone to worship services dedicated to the Holiday but have never been successful at giving anything up...something that is typically done by many over Lent.
What are some things individuals give up?
Again, this differs for everyone and can be anything as little as giving up soda and sweets or as big as taking away the use of social media (Pinterest and Blogging being the hardest for me).
Do you have to give something up?
No! Not at all! I've had friends who instead of giving something up, decided to challenge themselves by volunteering in the community and dedicate a particular person to pray for regularly.
Why do you want to celebrate Lent?
The choice to celebrate Lent is a personal one. I want to partake in it to help focus my heart and mind on Jesus and all that he went through during the days leading up to Easter.
How do you plan to celebrate?
I struggle with giving things up, especially if it's only for a brief period of time. I've tried the whole dieting over Lent and
sometimes never lasted the full 40 days. I personally don't feel dieting for Lent to be realistic. Maintaining our health should be a lifestyle that we should want to commit to long-term; eating healthy, exercising, etc. So instead of trying to stick to a strict diet, I think I would benefit better by doing RAK's (Random Acts of Kindness).
What are some ideas of RAK's I could do?
This one is easy for me to answer! There are SO many ways to serve others throughout your day-to-day schedule and can be as easy or as challenging as you want them to be. And if you don't want to stick to doing the same thing for 40-days, you can switch it up with a variety of options.
- Pray for someone you wouldn't consider to be a friend. This can be someone who frustrates or opposes you. Also pray for yourself, that you would show them the same kind of grace that Christ has shown for us.
- Clean out your closet and donate unwanted items to Goodwill.
- Write a thank-you note to your mailman.
- Take baked goodies to a local fire station for the firefighters to enjoy.
- Give jewelry that you no longer wear to someone who has child to use to play dress up with.
- Leave a Bible verse on a Post-It note and leave it on someone's car.
Lent is really a great time to re-examine our lives in hopes to identify unhealthy habits that ought to be cut out of our life. The small pain of missing a comfortable daily habit reminds us of the real hardships that Christ experienced and of everyone else who have faced trials and setbacks on account to their faith. One thing I have noticed is that if you stick to six consecutive weeks of something, chances are it's well on it's way to becoming a meaningful and healthy new habit.