It’s that time again! Yep, you guessed it: LENT. The season where we all get a chance to thoroughly cleanse ourselves of all the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual toxins that pervade our systems day in and day out. If you don’t know what Lent is, please check out my blogs from the past (I’ve literally done like 5) on fasting and Lent as it may be much needed context. Generally however, Lent is defined as “a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God.” (Also see Lent 101) This year Lent begins on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 and lasts 40 days, ending on March 24, 2016.
So why am I so adamant that EVERYONE, Christian and non-Christian, should participate in Lent this year? Because we’re ALL in need of some cleansing and renewal from time to time. The daily stressors of life alone are enough for me to want to climb into a cave and hibernate once or twice a year. So Lent is your opportunity to do just that, hibernate, rest, and come out of a 40-day fast as a stronger, better person. So in that vein I’ve gathered the top 10 ways you can fast this season, and more importantly the things you can do in place of what you decide to fast from; because ultimately, we want to not just eliminate the toxins but also add in the vitamins.
So here are your top 10 ways to fast this Lenten season:
- Give up negative language including cursing. Also challenge yourself to give more compliments and less put-downs. Instead:
- Add in words like love, happy, thank you, Good morning, etc. to your daily vocabulary.
- Master the English language; dust off that old dictionary and learn some fun words.
- While you’re at it, learn a new language; Try the duolingo app.
- Give up negative thoughts. Stop dwelling on your shortcomings. Instead:
- Meditate on the positive things happening in your life.
- Pray. Often. Pray for peace of mind, joy, etc.
- Consider others’ circumstances. Someone has it harder than you, so count your blessings.
- Give up negative music. You know, the songs with lyrics that are lusty, misogynistic, or plain ol’ blasphemous. Instead:
- Check out some Gospel music. My current fave is Israel and New Breed! It feels good, its uplifting, and it really does change your mood.
- Explore other genres such as classical or jazz.
- If this is REALLY hard for you (like it is for me) start off with instrumental versions of your favorite songs.
- Give up toxic food and drinks. This includes chemically-enhanced foods and alcohol. Christians, I’d recommend Leviticus 11 if you need more context on why this is a great way to grow closer to God. Instead:
- Add in more fresh fruits and vegetables per day. I mean really, how hard is an apple a day?
- Drink the right amount of water for your body; half your weight in ounces!!
- Tea!!!! The good kind, though.
- Give up negative TV and movies. Yes, that includes that ratchet LHHNY or Housewives of Beverly Hills. Instead:
- Add in more academic shows such as Jeopardy (I acknowledge I’m biased here lol), Brain Games, and Shark Tank (again another fave).
- Try subscribing to video podcasts such as How Stuff Works or Bishop TD Jakes.
- Add in a book or two; ones that will grow your mind and soul.
- Give up your negative history. You can’t keep allowing what happened in the past to influence your present or future. Instead:
- Add in therapy. No, real talk.
- Talk to a trusted friend/family member.
- Talk to a pastor.
- Give up toxic social media. Sometimes seeing the “wonderful” lives of others and comparing yourself to them can be depressing. Instead:
- Read blogs that will build you up (such as this one lol).
- Choose to follow positive leaders online.
- Take a break from it altogether. It’s ok, it will be there when you get back.
- Give up fear. Being afraid is not productive. One of my faaaavveeee versus of all time says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy, 1:7. Instead:
- DO something you’ve been wanting to do forever. Push yourself to JUST DO IT!
- Give up stressful work. You deserve to be happy. Instead:
- Work on the things that will advance your personal life goals.
- Start your own business. No, really.
- Find a job/career that you love.
- Give up toxic people. It’s ok to let go of people who don’t have your best interest at heart. PERIOD. Instead:
- Find friends who love and support you, unconditionally (easier said than done, I know).
- Expand your professional network. After all, your network is your net-worth.
- If all else fails, go at it alone. God’s got your back.
Now, I know this is all a WHOLE lot to process but honestly, choosing just 1 or 2 will likely yield amazing results in your life after just 40 days. Don’t forget however that you need to:
-Have a plan! If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Write it down and make it plain.
-Have accountability partners. You need folks in your corner who are going to call you out but also catch you when you fall. AND…
-Try, try, again. Fasting is hard, and we all fall. It’s up to you to get up and try again.
Hope this helps and more importantly, I hope you get in on the fun this year.If you need some encouragement, leave a note below!
P.S. What am I giving up, you ask? Some versions of 1, 3, 4, and 6. Pray for me lol.