Originally, I had a great Lent blog planned since for the first time, I'm giving up something. I already told about giving up buying clothes for the month of February, and over drinks with friends last week, I decided to try giving up something each month for the rest of the year as an experiment. On the chopping block so far- Facebook, meat, pop, jeans (so hard!). For other months, I might add a goal like going running three times a week or reading for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week. I have some more brainstorming to do on this, I'll keep you posted. My goal for the project is to set and accomplish short-term goals for personal growth without seriously affecting anyone else's life in the process (for example giving up my car for a month and needing to bum rides off everyone for everything).
And then my boyfriend (who actually is Catholic) told me he was giving up alcohol for Lent. I decided to tack that on since I'm giving up random somethings this year anyway, I might as well give up alcohol for Lent for moral support. I hadn't originally thought of including alcohol as a give-up for 2012 (maybe because I was very much enjoying a glass of wine at the time I was chatting with friends), but hey, 40 days isn't that long. I'm not a raging alcoholic or anything, but I do like to enjoy a few drinks a week.
So then I was REALLY planning a great Lent blog on the virtues of self-denial and self-discipline when I read "The Opportunity of Lent" from Becoming Minimalist. It's great. It just hits the nail on the head.
It put me in my place that the first "opportunity" of Lent is to learn humility. I quoth- "It is a humbling exercise to battle controlling influences in our lives.
We are forced to stand face-to-face with our weaknesses and our
humanity. And whether we win or lose over the course of the forty days,
even the intensity of the struggle supplies profound humility."
It's not a time to go parading around what we're giving up or that we just happen to be doing great at it. If we can do that, it means we picked something that wasn't a controlling influence on our life in the first place.
The other "opportunity" that struck me was developing empathy. I am not naturally a very empathetic person. When other people struggle with any number of things (addiction, overeating, little initiative, etc.), I tend to respond with an attitude similar to "Just get over it already!!!" This is neither kind nor encouraging to the person struggling. By struggling through a challenge myself, I might (hopefully?) develop a kinder attitude to others.
The one "opportunity" I'd add to Becoming Minimalist's list is forced creativity. By giving up alcohol, I will probably branch out in to some other beverages I wouldn't otherwise drink. On nights I might usually drink a glass of wine, I might opt for a glass of warm cider or soy milk. One of my favorite Happy Hour locations makes their own ginger ale and root beer, but I haven't tried those yet since I'm usually ordering something alcoholic. For the month I'll be giving up meat, I'll have to get creative with some new recipes. For the month I'm giving up jeans (yikes! scary!), I'm going to have to get REALLY creative with my wardrobe.
So there's my Lent blog. You should probably read Becoming Minimalist's Lent blog for a more philosophical & challenging take :)