Do you give up certain foods or behaviours during Lent?
Typically, I don’t … for a couple of reasons:
- The denomination I belong to doesn’t follow the liturgical calendar.
- When I’ve given up something in the past, I’ve typically thought more about that something than I have what the Lord has done for me, which, of course, should be the reason for whatever “fast” we participate in.
This year, however, I decided to revisit Lent. It all began with some of the authors and podcasters I follow on social media. From newly published 40-day devotionals to online group studies … I wanted to take it all in. (Hmm, sounds a lot like the opposite of giving things up actually.)
My hubby and I have set aside our collaborative study of Mary DeMuth’s Outrageous Grace Every
Day and are studying Margaret Feinberg’s Beautiful Life, a study of the book of James.
I am using Asheritah Ciuciu’s Lenten study, Uncovering the Love of Jesus, in my personal quiet time.
I also plan to participate in Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free Bible Study, which is how I first became involved with Kathi’s online community—and subsequently became one of her interns.
Further, I’ve signed up to join Amy Carroll and Cheri Gregory on Facebook in the study of their book, Exhale.
And then, of course, I may try to carve out time to study Michelle Cushatt’s book Relentless.
Wait! Wasn’t I talking about giving things up?
Regardless of my ridiculously jam-packed reading schedule (do I really need sleep?), I have chosen to set some things aside as we approach Easter, the most incredible day of the Christian calendar in my mind.
What matters less than what I’ve decided to set aside and habits I’m seeking to pursue are the immediate changes it has brought about.
I’m not missing the things I’m fasting from. And yes, I know Lent just began. (Note: I’m writing this on February 29.) I am not only benefiting spiritually as I seek to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV) but also mentally, emotionally, and physically. God is so very
I gave this post the title “Don’t Give Up or Give In.”
Let’s not give up on the following—whether we give up something for Lent or not:
- Regular time with the Lord.
- Studying the Scriptures. Although there are a plethora of books, blogs, and podcasts that serve as wonderful resources, there is nothing like digging into God’s Word.
- Seizing even brief opportunities throughout the day to focus on what He has done for us.
- Communing with Him in prayer, whether for hours in our prayer closet or moments between tasks.
- Truly fellowshipping with other believers. This takes time and effort that many of us don’t allot for in our crazy schedules.
How can we overcome our tendency to give in? (Granted, what tempts me to give in may not affect you at all, but we all have our areas of weakness.)
- I love making lists. Lately, I’ve begun to prioritize my list. Crossing off a high priority task or one that has been on my list for ages is far more satisfying than crossing off several tasks that aren’t all that important. (For some of the things I consider most important, see the list above.)
- Don’t want to give into the tendency to procrastinate? While this will sound odd coming from me, limiting the items on our To Do list will help us achieve more. Better to accomplish more than we thought we could than to always have things left on our list at the end of the day that we wish we could have accomplished. (I may put this saying on my wall. Maybe.)
- Tempted to throw up your hands and say, “What’s the use?” Stay focused on the task at hand. Seeking to multitask, which is a fallacy, we become less productive. Too often I flit from one thing to the next to the next when it isn’t necessary.
- Accountability is extremely helpful. There are online groups and apps that can serve to hold us accountable. But there is always the “old-fashioned” method of pairing up with someone you know personally, sharing your goal with them, and deciding how and when you will check in with one another.
- Be kind to yourself. Factoring in “the cheats” can be extremely helpful. Giving up dessert for Lent? Why not allow yourself one treat on the weekend? Miss your devotional time one day? How about setting a goal of reading a brief passage and praying first thing in the morning or last thing at night three times a week? If you can do more … great! If not, you will have achieved your goal. Have more left on your To Do list at the end of the day than you were able to accomplish? See Tips 1 & 2.
Whether we give up something for Lent or not, let’s focus on what Jesus accomplished on our behalf. Let’s seek Him for the strength not to give up on those things He has called us to and not to give in to overwhelm.