When I was younger, it was giving up candy or chocolate. As I got older, it was social media or alcohol. This Lenten season, I wanted to focus less on giving up and more on what I could gain or how I could grow.
For those unfamiliar, Lent is the forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, where Christians and Catholics traditionally pray, fast, give, and sacrifice. Often, as a form of fasting or self-discipline, many will give up something they enjoy or a vice.
I had not realized until my kindergartener came home from school on Ash Wednesday how giving things up and sacrificing isn’t always helpful. She lamented on the drive home, “What about dum-dums? But I like dum-dums; that’s too hard!” An idea came into my head; instead of giving something superficial up, why don’t we use this Lent to gain skills and grow as people?
“How about on our drive home, we talk about something kind you did or something someone did for you?” She loved this idea. This Lent, she’ll grow in kindness.
And for myself, instead of the usual giving up weekday wine (this does not last until Easter), I gave myself a challenge. This Lent and beyond, I want to grow in patience.
Mom rage and the blow-ups are something I want to change about myself. As a working mom who leaves one full-time job to jump back into my other one, I can get tired, overwhelmed, and burnt out. Having the patience to deal with tiny humans who are also tired and overwhelmed can be a hurdle. This is an area where I need to work on myself and find growth. This is the perfect forty days to get that started.
So instead of giving up Instagram for the next forty days of Lent (we know you check it anyway), try to see how you can grow. There’s an opportunity for self-reflection, meditation, and discipline in that period of time. Even if you aren’t a believer, forty days of mental wellness and clarity in an area you’re struggling with can be a breath of fresh air.