Today is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. Like I said yesterday, I’m not Catholic, but just as I celebrate Mardi Gras, I also give up something for Lent. I started doing so in high school because all of my Catholic friends did and it seemed like the cool thing to do. Plus, it was an easy way to give up french fries or soda which seemed really important in high school. However, this tradition has stuck with me, and every year it makes a little more sense.
Many religious people give up something for Lent as a form of penitence, or a way to bring themselves closer to God. Some give up their favorite foods, others give up bad habits, like smoking or drinking and some give up their time to volunteer and help those in need. I know friends who give up Facebook, coffee, shopping, etc. Some of these may seem silly, but it can often be very meaningful, even life changing.
Giving up something you love or just enjoy a little too often can lead to an appreciation of the things you have and are able to use daily. Giving up bad habits is good for obvious reasons, and its easy to give them up permanently after stopping for 40 days. The little changes you make during this time of Lent may make a big difference.
So, after giving it much thought I decided not to give up anything, but instead to do something. Over the last few days I thought about volunteering for 40 days, sending 40 hand-written letters to loved ones, exercising for 40 days straight, but ultimately I decided on 40 days of kindness. I’m not the only one getting creative either. Momastery is doing 40 days of gratitude, and I’ve seen lots of other Facebook friends and bloggers share their ideas for “doing something” for Lent as opposed to “giving up” something.
My goal is to do one small (or large) act of kindness each day until Easter. A few of my ideas are to send hand-written letters out, visit someone who is lonely, buy a stranger’s drink at Starbucks, volunteer, lend a helping hand whenever possible and much more. I’ve got some brainstorming to do! I’m open to suggestions too, so please let me know your ideas for small acts of kindness.
Anyone else doing something a little different for Lent? Or, giving up something they love? I’d love to hear about it!