Forgive me if I've butchered the actual meaning of Lent there; I didn't grow up celebrating it (if "celebrating" is even the right word), and most of my basis of reference comes from watching friends who did. I remember kids in school giving up chocolate for Lent, but that came across as more of a duty of self-sacrifice - something they could brag/complain about, but not much else.
Then when I was in my late teens, my friend Kathy gave up Star Trek for Lent. This completely blew my mind: you could do that? And why? She told me she used the time she would otherwise be watching the show to meditate and study, which again, might not be exactly "right" for Lent, but at least it opened my eyes more to the concept.
This week I've seen friends posting a couple of different Lent strategies - some religious, some not - and I like that they're making me think. So far my favorite is the one that proposes giving up one thing from your house to the thrift store for each of the 40 days. But then, I'm a devoted purger year-round, so I'm not sure that's much of a challenge.
I've seen this one going around on Facebook, and it's got me a little riled. Sorry for the yucky image quality:
Now, I'm sure there are good intentions here, but oof. I take issue with anything that insinuates we can simply STOP feeling things, and then start feeling the exact opposite. Because - and please hear this, friends - we can't. Your emotions are not a beast to be tamed by sheer will power. Your emotions cannot be summoned at will, cannot be wished out of existence, and are not - NOT! - inherently good or evil.
To quote Dumbledore, it is our choices that show who we truly are. It's the things we can control. So by all means, lets do the things that help manage how we feel. Let's make healthy decisions. Let's meditate or pray and eat right and go to therapy and be diligent about taking our medications. But don't you dare - and hey, I'm talking to you here - don't you DARE feel lesser for feeling so-called "negative" emotions. Anger and hurt and sadness are part of the terrible beauty of being human. We all feel them. Sometimes we need to feel them. And that's OK.
Sorry, I got a little feisty there. I grew up in the church, and I'm fortunate enough to have mostly good memories, but the stigma against mental health treatment is real and long-lasting and a cancer that needs. to. go.
Right, shake it out, Jen. Shake it out.
Ahhh. That's better.
MOOOVING ON, here's another hot take one of my friends shared for Lent:
While I'll always err on the side of being more quiet, more tolerant and affable, I do like this idea. I know the simple act of stretching out or putting my arm over a chair back makes me feel a million times more confident, and on the one hand that's ridiculous, but on the other, it's wonderful. So even though this idea doesn't seem to have anything to do with Lent, heck yeah, I'm in! ARM RESTS FOR EVERYONE! ... except the person next to us, I guess.
When I went looking for that Rick Astley meme I found a bunch of ones about giving up Facebook for Lent, so apparently that's a thing. Obviously I'm not about to tell you how to do you, as this is a hugely personal decision, but speaking as a small business owner: please don't give up social media. Every artist, writer, small business, and content creator out here desperately needs your likes, clicks, and comments. Maybe consider just giving up posting instead?
Plus, who knows, maybe your in-laws will like you better that way.
::ducks, runs away::
So now that I've gone on about Lent for a whole post, I guess I should admit I'm not giving up anything for it. Instead, I think I'll try looking for ways to show more gratitude online. Like, today I was thinking about a certain commenter here who consistently says things that make me smile. Then I realized: hey, I should tell her that. So I did. You know, things like that. I always try to be positive online, but I can always try harder, right? Plus I figure getting more gratitude out there in the world is in keeping with the spirit of Lent, and does us all good whatever we believe.
How about you guys? Obviously this isn't a religious forum, but I'm curious: have you ever given something up for your own emotional/mental/spiritual health? What was it, and did it work?