Ideas for What to Give Up for Lent
What is Lent?
I must admit this right off the bat: I am not Catholic. I am a practicing Protestant. However, I am a fan of the Lent tradition of sacrifice. While sometimes I might be accused of not using this time as intended (i.e. giving up chocolate really helps to take off a few pounds), I do believe in the idea of using this time of year to draw closer to Christ - to seek to value his sacrifice by a sacrifice of our own.
And that is what Lent is. According to Catholic tradition (and please correct me, Catholics, if I am wrong) the practice is to refrain from eating warm-blooded meat on Fridays during the Lent season while also attending additional church services throughout Lent. It is now a common practice for Catholics to give up something else during the entire Lent season, usually related to food as well.
The purpose of this is to be reminded of Christ's sacrifice on the cross (similar to the advent calendar for Christmas). Starting Ash Wednesday, one may choose to sacrifice some item and they continue to do that until Easter Sunday. The exact start and end dates vary each year but Lent is always 47 days.
I put bad in parenthesis because I wouldn't consider alcohol or gambling to be bad per se, just bad in excess. There are some bad things that didn't make this list, like drugs, because those should be given up permanently.
Texting/talking on the phone while driving
Negativity (i.e. bad language, complaining)
In choosing a food, it seems that one would want to choose something that they would really miss. For example, giving up artichokes would not be much of a sacrifice for me. Here are some common ones I have heard of or have given up myself.
Sweets: This is probably the most popular one I have heard of. Either all sweets, or just some, like just chocolate, just candy, just after dinner dessert, etc.
Soda (all kinds or a specific kind)
Meat (all kinds or specific kinds)
Consider also saving up the money you would have spent and donating it to charity at the end of the Lent season.
- Movies (my husband gave up non-christian movies two years in a row)
- Radio (I gave up non-christian radio one year)
- Smartphone use besides calling (or besides calling and texting or even texting!)
I have heard a lot of people doing this. They will take 30 minutes out of their day, oftentimes in the morning by waking up earlier, and reading the bible or doing a devotional.
One could give up staying up as late - going to bed at 10:30 pm instead of 11:30 pm, for example.
You could donate a certain amount of your time each week to service, whether that is volunteering at a clinic or petting animals at a shelter.
You could set aside a few minutes a night to prayer, or plan on getting together with a friend to pray each week.
Driving your car to work
You could take public transportation if you live in the sort of place that would allow that. Bonus: Donate the money you saved on gas!
Adding Something Rather Than Subtracting
Some people choose to add something to their lives instead of taking something away. I love this idea! One year, I actually made myself eat three meals a day because I was finding myself so worried about my financial situation that I would cut out a meal thinking I couldn't afford it. And guess what! God provided for me just as He always has and have tried to remember that time when I get worried about finances. Some things you could add:
Always hold the door for someone who is coming behind you
Praying for someone when you stop at a stop sign/ stop light
Saying please and thank you
Writing encouraging and positive letters/notes to people or calling them
Adding something to your diet, like more vegetables or healthy grains
Picking up small amounts of trash you see on the ground
Writing your governmental leaders about issues that concern you
Cooking extra meals for your church or other people in need
Carrying extra food to give to homeless people you see as you go about your day