Lent officially began on Wednesday, which was a crazy day for me with 6 hours in the car, a job interview, and a mini snow storm. I made it to mass and got my ashes, but hopefully you understand why this is a little late. It is, however, the first Sunday of Lent, so it kind of still works!
For those of you who don’t know, I’m Catholic, and the thing that Catholics pride themselves on during the Lenten season is sacrificing as Jesus did during His 40 days in the desert. It’s automatically assumed that we are giving up something to try to live a more godly life.
I can get why children learn to sacrifice by giving up candy or soda. It helps them connect to this part of Jesus’ life as well as see that they can do without a luxury that they enjoy. However, I am shocked at the amount of my friends in college that still say such surface-level things surrounding Lent: “I’m giving up hitting snooze,” and “I’m giving up chocolate” are some of the things I’ve heard in the past week. Though it’s great that they’re making the effort to be more like Jesus, as we grow and mature, shouldn’t our Lenten promises do the same?
I really thought long and hard about what I was going to do for Lent this year, and ultimately decided I wasn’t going to give anything up. I’ve given up a lot of toxic things in the past year or so that has ultimately made my life a lot healthier and led me closer to God. During the 40 days of Lent, I am going to ADD things into my life to further my pursuit of Him.
First addition? Making it to mass every week. I’ve never made a point to attend mass at school other than Easter and other days of obligation because I’ve felt a strong relationship with God with or without being physically in the church. Looking back on my childhood, a lot of the people that prided themselves on going to church every week and donating lots of money at collection were, in fact, the people that rarely followed the teachings of the church and instead used it to make themselves look good in our affluent (and often, superficial) community. Although my childhood church was great overall, I think this environment definitely led me to develop my bond with God independently. I know I one day want to take my kids to church every week, and to be fully able to raise a family that is centered on God, I must first center my life completely on Him. I think I’ve done a pretty good job, but by making physically attending church every week a priority, I am sending a message to everyone (and to Him) that I find the time I spend at church valuable and what is important in my life.
Secondly, I am adding unconditional forgiveness. It’s fairly easy to forgive when the instance is small. You pray about it, forgive the individual(s) involved, and then move on. This addition is more for the people I don’t want to forgive because I feel they don’t deserve it. It is for the situations that have persisted not for days, but for months and years. It is for those whom I have begun to resent due to the pain they have caused me and those I love. There is a difference between forgiveness and condonation when someone hurts you. I am really working on being able to separate the two and hopefully, this will facilitate the process. It doesn’t matter if they deserve my forgiveness, I deserve the weight off my shoulders that comes with letting go of a grudge. I am in no way perfect and may not fully succeed, but I know only good can come from the pursuit.
Finally, I am adding daily fellowship. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am completely surrounded by like-minded friends that bring me closer to God instead of dragging me away. I’ve never hidden my relationship with God, but I really don’t go out of my way to highlight it. Every day during Lent, I will be open and discuss my relationship with God, as well as encourage my friends to do the same with me. One of my close friends started a Lent group text to share verses and get daily doses of inspiration, and I’m in a GroupMe message with younger members of my sorority to meet up at mass. I think overall sharing my relationship and showing the imperfections of mine that God continues to forgive will overall strengthen me and help my friends with their faith as well.
I’ll do a recap post at the end of Lent discussing how these three additions went and what I learned from them! Enjoy the season, and make sure to eat lots of sushi on Fridays if you’re Catholic like I am 🙂