I love Lent. Is that weird? I’m sure it’s not. Whenever Ash Wednesday rolls around, I am reminded of the potential and strength that the Lenten season has to offer. The season is all about sacrifice, gratitude, selflessness, and ultimately working towards a deeper, more spiritually serving person for one’s self and for others. As we go about our days today, we may encounter people with ashes on their foreheads. What’s that all about? In the Bible, ashes were used as an outward sign of repentance, where repentance means to turn away from sin and to turn towards God. By receiving ashes and keeping them on, we proclaim to others that we intend to live like Christ this Lenten season.
Often, the question of what are you giving up? or what are you taking on? gets thrown around. For the past week I have battled between different ideas. Each year, since I was an undergraduate at USD, I have given something up and I have taken something on. Sometimes ambitious, and always challenging.
So what am I giving up? Luckily for me, my good friend Avery will be joining me on a journey through no sugar. You all may remember last summer and last December when I made an attempt to limit my sugar intake. My sweet tooth is not something to be reckoned with, trust me. I practice major self control when it comes to putting down that last Girl Scout Cookie (Samoas, anyone?). I am a glutton, and it something I must remind myself of each day. I have enough; why do I need more? Why can I literally not stop putting down candy once it’s in my hand? In order to practice moderation, I will be taking a fast from sugar during the weekdays, but allowing myself sugar on the weekends. This way, I can continue to practice self control on the weekends without completely eliminating it from my everyday life–something that I believe will be helpful once the Lenten season is over. Thank goodness Avery will be in on this with me; it always helps to have a buddy! No longer will I be able to take refuge in sugar during moments of joy and anxiety; I must fill up my mind, body, and spirit another way.
Now, what am I taking on? Just yesterday, I had absolutely no idea; but the idea came to me at the end of my morning yoga sculpt class during savasana. I asked myself, “What should you do?” and it simply came to me and I listened to what I heard. Be kind. I am going to perform at least one intentional act of kindness for someone each day. I want to truly be challenged and truly be transformed, and to be honest–sometimes it is incredibly difficult for me to be kind. I snap back, I get angry, and I want to move past these emotions and provide joy each day. Forty days. Forty days of giving back, doing good, and being generous–it is unlike anything I have done for Lent before and I am both excited and scared. But as we all know, if something scares us, it might be a good idea to take it head on.
A couple of years ago, I received a letter from an old friend that completely lifted my spirits. She thanked me saying, “You have been Jesus Christ to me many times.” Those words have stuck with me ever since, and this Lent, it is something I tell myself to aspire to be–who we should all aspire to be like. Be Jesus Christ. Serve others. And be a light in people’s lives.