Sunday, March 10, 2019

UnreLENTing

I've been thinking about Lent lately, or rather - before you run away screaming -  the practice of giving up something for a while to help you reflect and focus and feel more grateful for the things you have.

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.

Arrrrg.

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:

   

Remember how I said I like that these are making me think? This one made me think pretty hard. I still internally flinch at ANYTHING that says "Don't apologize for..." so I'm obviously not a rebel, ha. (Where my fellow people-pleasers at? Who also can't stand conflict? Aw yeeeah, holla!)

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::

 WHAT.

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?

50 comments:

  1. I'm a devout Catholic who loves Lent, and I think your ideas are great! (I also don't think that BS meme is a legitimate quote from the Pope.) Some people give something up, some people do something extra. The three pillars of Lent are fasting, praying, and almsgiving. I think many people focus on the giving up chocolate or whatever, and forget the other two. Anything that is an exercise in self-control that helps you be more mindful about your choices and more charitable to the people around you is great. And, ideally, it should lead you closer to God as well.

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  2. I think the idea behind the Pope quote is less that you can control your emotions and more that you can control your attitude. After all, the Bible gives plenty of examples of Jesus himself being sad or angry. So maybe "I'm depressed, but I'm not going to give up," or "I'm really ticked off right now, but I can still be civil to other people." That sort of thing. Kind of reminds me of the oft-cited idea that courage isn't an absence of fear, but being able to keep going even when you're absolutely terrified.

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    1. I concur ��

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    2. I agree. I think the point is to try to increase the positivity in your life.

      I've both given things up and taken things up. I think taking up new habits is actually harder than giving up chocolate or anything like that. Like your friend who gave up a show but TOOK UP mediation and study. Lent should, IMO, be a time of introspection.

      I had a really hard time with Lent last year because my grandmother died at the start of it. This year it's time to let go of some of that sadness, not because I shouldn't feel sad, but I should also give myself room for joy.

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    3. I totally agree as well.

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  3. I think 'observing' Lent might be the best way to say it. ;)

    And, though like Tracy, I have my doubts as to whether or not that is an actual quote from the Pope, I think what the meme is trying to get across (or what I HOPE it is) and how I read it was not to just...poof! Not be bitter or sad or worried anymore, but to be AWARE that you are being bitter or sad or worried and to try to figure out why you are feeling those things and to TRY to move on from them.

    And, I mean, also, it IS possible to manufacture feelings! It's been shown that laughing for 30 seconds, even if you aren't happy can MAKE you happy, and squinting into the sun can turn you grumpy because it's a similar face to anger.

    And and and (I am sorry, I have many thoughts here) while I will say that most feelings are neither good nor bad, there are some that do you no good. Bitterness, jealousy, hate...there is nothing to gain from those feelings.

    If something makes you jealous, I am not here to tell you that you "shouldn't" be, or to get over it. BUt I would ask you how it serves you, how it HELPS you to feel that way. Walk through it. There is am issue, your feeling is telling you that. But what IS it. WHY do you feel this way? Yu see?

    Your feelings are your feelings, and they are valid! But they are not always helpful or healthy and I don't know that there's anything bad about recognizing that.

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  4. I'm not Catholic, so I've never participated in Lent, but I think the concept is that by setting aside certain things, we attempt to draw closer to God. For some, that might be alcohol, or chocolate, or excessive online time. For some, it might be hurtful thoughts. I think that's where the "attributed to Pope Francis" thing is going. Not that we should stop FEELING sad or hurt or worried, but that we should try to stop DWELLING on those feelings. In other words, have the feelings, acknowledge them, then try to move on to something more positive. I have GAD, so I know I'm not ever going to stop feeling anxious. I can, however, try to recognize the anxiety for what it is and then focus my energy on something else. That's just this Baptist chick's opinion.

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  5. My husband is Catholic. I have never converted but we attend a Catholic church every Sunday and do observe Lenten practices. I have to agree with the other posts that the meme supposedly from the Pope is less about controlling your feelings or trying not to feel any negative emotions and more about choosing your attitude. One can give something up for Lent in the spirit of being mindful of the sacrifices Jesus made. I have done this in the past, but I feel that (for me anyway) it is often just a temporary gesture that does not have the deeper meaning it is meant to have. In my opinion it may be more meaningful to challenge oneself to pay it forward, be more accepting of others, volunteer, say something nice to at least one person every day, etc. to help better oneself and put more good into the world. I plan to try to do this for Lent. I find myself often wrapped up in myself, in what I want or need, so I hope to try to be more attuned to the needs of others. Just my personal plan and opinion.
    Tracy said it better and much more succinctly than I!

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  6. I gave up my brother. After years of putting up with his BS, his treatment of my mom, dragging my innocent 3 and 4 year old niece and nephew into it, and me never knowing what I did to deserve that sort of treatment, I just stopped. No emails, no calls, no confrontation. I just stopped any interaction. It was the best thing and I have never regretted it.

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    1. That was a hard thing to do. I did the same with one of my two brothers. He has alienated the entire family one by one, believing we've all done him some wrong over the years.

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  7. Many years ago, when I used to tutor, I discussed Lent one of my students (she participated in Lent but I did/do not). After going through all of the standard things to give up, such as chocolate or TV, we came to the conclusion that she would help her mother with something every day instead of giving something up. So, in a way, she was giving up some of her selfishness and some of her time. It seemed to work out pretty well for everyone involved. :)

    (Reading Tracy's comment, that actually seemed to fit in pretty well with the idea of Lent.)

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  8. My church is Evangelical, so we don’t officially observe Lent, but we did discuss the idea of it today. He reiterated that giving up Chocolate for Lent isn’t about “dieting for Jesus” but more recognizing that when those cravings come, we should focus on Him and pray. We should receive our strength from Him, not from chocolate. It’s a season for reflection. It can become a season of showing off, instead.

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  9. Heyyy, this is a fabulous article, Miss Jen!! <3 You have a condensed version of how I try explaining why I, a non-Catholic (but still Christian), would celebrate Lent. It's not about religion for me. It's about the focus of actively changing a part of your life. (And it's convenient to do it along with everyone else. XD)

    I usually pick out my Lent during New Years's and work on that instead of a resolution. In the time between NY and Lent, I take a day twice a month for practice. Then it's time to rock and roll! And usually when Lent/Easter is over, I can see how my life has changed, hopefully for the better.

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  10. For Lent I once gave up listening to the radio on the commute to work (30-45 minutes, mostly NPR news). It was an experience of "being present" to the otherwise automatic job of driving in suburban Boston traffic, and a time to just think. While I can't say it was a life-changing experience, I arrived more relaxed, and probably with lower blood pressure.

    To your point about how we can control how we react to things, I remember vividly when I realized I had stopped apologizing for my clumsy interactions, and could acknowledge and even smile at my social awkwardness. So freeing!

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  11. I'm Mexican American, y Dios mio...us Mexicans can get hardcore for Lent. :D I went to 13 years of Catholic school practicing Lent & other religious holidays, and always rolled my eyes whenever fellow students said they gave up easy things for Lent that doesn't challenge their religious practice. But, as someone who now identifies as pretty secular and married to an atheist (or as my family calls him, Angel Ateo!), I've begun to think of Lent and other such practices more critically and with an openness towards other faiths & scientific understanding of our world.
    I've actually been listening to Harry Potter & the Sacred Text podcast during my hour commute in the morning, and it's been a very interesting experience to analyze a secular text the way "sacred texts" have been traditionally analyzed. One part that really got me was understanding people's points of views whom you don't like or even despise. I hold a grudge like no one's business, and it is really difficult to win my trust back if you've crossed me, so the concept of forgiving a person, wishing them well (or pray for them if you're religious), & not hang on to bitter resentment that only just hurts you is really powerful. This is not to say I will like/love said person, but just that I can understand my emotions, address them, but also have healthy outlets so they don't build up. And as someone who very much suffers from ongoing bouts of mental health issues, having ways of dealing with a myriad of complicated emotions is necessary.

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  12. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, so Lent is not a direct religious practice of mine. But, I do try to fast once a month from two meals (or my favorite food group, when fasting isn't healthy) and I find that it can be very helpful to work on focusing my energies on more than just the immediate physical needs.

    I also have done more Lent-like fasts from phone use, etc. I really do think that whether you add a spiritual factor or not, it can be so good to change things up enough for you to analyze what you are doing and how it makes you feel. In my case, I decided I actually needed to have a goal to read LESS books this year so that I could be more present with my kids, and other people and activities I value.

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    1. Lisa, I could totally have written this. 😆

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  13. I think you have some valid points. However, and I hope the statement that dissenting opinions are great in the footer is meaningful, I do think that the paragraph starting with "To quote Dumbledore" is going to be very difficult to read for a subset of your fans. Fans of Epbot is supposed to be for the fans of this blog, and many of your fans came to you because of identifying with your struggle with anxiety. Considering that the Fans of Epbot group on Facebook specifically disallows posts dealing with or even referencing the "negative feelings" you say it's ok to feel, that situation coupled with the message in that paragraph, quite frankly, is going to sting for a number of people. I admin a community group on FB triple the size of FoE, and I get how negativity in large groups tends to snowball. However, I think the admins/moderators have gone too far in trying to course correct for that, and they're hurting and alienating a significant number of your fans in doing so.

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    1. I think this is a very interesting and fantastic point, Steph! Several years ago, I had a severe anxiety attack (to the point where I had to call the triage nurse & up my meds per medical order), had shallow breathing, felt like someone's foot was pushing down on my chest, and could not stop it! During this anxiety attack (which was definitely caused in part by isolation from my family & some negative thoughts I had been having earlier that day), I tried everything I could to minimize the severity, including reading books and watching shows I liked and mindfulness breathing & meditation. The fact is I really needed to vent specifically about this problem, have an empathetic ear, and get some strategic guidance and help in the moment. So I turned to FoE, thinking Jen talks about these problems on Epbot, so therefor it would be a perfect place for all of the above. I will say that in my anxious state, I had not read the specific group rules, and didn't know that posting about my severe anxiety attack with a call for help would violate those rules. My post was immediately taken down, only after quite a few people started posting positive comments towards me and techniques they had done to minimize the severity of an attack. I was really confused & upset, didn't know if there was something wrong with me, and it made me feel so much worse.

      Minutes later, up pops a private message from John Yates, asking me if I was okay. He said the admins had to take down the post due to group rules, but he couldn't help but notice my frantic state. I was so grateful he reached out to me like that!! We chatted via Messenger over what was bothering me, how Jen deals with it, and let me know to be careful with unscientific claims regarding treating depressive/anxiety disorders. I couldn't believe how sweet John was and it meant the world to me.

      So, I understand FoE is a fan-run FB group whose goal is to keep positive interactions online, but in my anxiety-induced state, I was desperate as to who to turn to, since I didn't feel comfortable calling my family about this issue, I had already called the doctor's office, and I just moved to a new city and didn't know anyone close by to confide in. I was seriously contemplating calling an ambulance for fear I would go unconscious from the shallow breathing and the inability to get myself up.

      Fortunately, John spread out a helping hand, listened to me, and helped me strategize in the moment. I still struggle with what online resources are available to those suffering mental health issues that are evidence-based, trust-worthy, and available to those suffering in the moment. Perhaps even a list of good resources/groups folks could visit linked from the Epbot blog would be fantastic. :)

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    2. Just wanted to chime in and say thanks for sharing your story. I don't have anything to offer in the way of online resources, but I hope you're able to find some good places for those moments of need. And thanks for highlighting what an amazing guy John is. So cool that he would reach out.

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  14. Leah in WilliamsburgMarch 10, 2019 at 11:11 PM

    I have lots of thoughts/feelings on this...

    I am fortunate to attend a church where mental health treatment doesn't carry a stigma (or at least no more than in the general populace--probably slightly less). In fact, we used to have a licensed therapist do weekly office hours at our church, with payment on a sliding/need-based scale. He was incredibly helpful to me during some of the worst times of my life. And yes, the idea of "negative emotions are all bad and shouldn't be felt" was something he had to help me unlearn.

    While I doubt the origin of the Francis quote, I agree with other commenters that it's more about attitude and actions and what we spend time dwelling on. ("Perseverate" is a word my therapist taught me. I had a problem with perseverating about all the reasons I was depressed.) Whether I like it or not, my soul lives in my body. We live in a broken, flawed world, and therefore our bodies are flawed too. In particular, mine was dumping stress hormones into my bloodstream at a horrifying rate. How do I reconcile that with the commands in the Bible telling me not to be anxious? Well, it's about how I deal with that physiological response. I realize that I'm okay in an existential sense. God loves me. Even if I feel terrible, I try not to dwell on my worries.

    I don't do Lent, but I gave up computer games cold turkey in 2010. I was trying to use them to help regulate my anxiety, and instead they were making me jumpy and reducing my attention span. Whenever I procrastinated by playing games, waiting for the anxiety to fade, I'd end up still anxious and even more behind. I couldn't do moderation, so I quit them entirely. It was the right decision for me. (I still had to do years of therapy and medication, but it was a step int he direction of better mental health.)

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  15. One thing people are currently trying for Lent is giving up Single Use Plastics. I do not do things for religious reasons, but I like this idea a lot, and while I don't know if I will be able to completely eliminate them from my life I think that it is worth trying through Lent, and hopefully beyond.

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  16. Lent "is something only the catholics do". That's pretty much how I've only ever heard of it. Lenten stuff is not something that was part of the baptist church I grew up in.

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    1. Not only Catholics. The Episcopal Church and several other mainstream denominations observe Lent, as do some independent churches.

      Although I am now an atheist (having grown up in the Episcopal Church), I personally prefer the idea of adding a good habit rather than taking the easy way out of giving up something that is of little significance in the grand scheme. Many people who think it is just about giving up a treat spend all their time looking forward the Sundays, which are allowed cheat days.

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  17. I agree with others that 1) that quote may have not come from the Pope and 2) if it did, I believe it was more in the spirit of trying to do those things, rather than an effort to deny our true feelings.
    I grew up Catholic and gave up candy (my favorite thing) every year. Made our Easter baskets that much more enjoyable! Since I've been an adult I don't give anything up, but I do take efforts to spend more time praying and thinking about my blessings and about others.
    Maureen S

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  18. Lent is not just for Catholics, it's for Protestants too. We are Protestant. Christian. My daughter gives up going to church for Lent. She doesn't like church at that time of year, everything is dark and subdued and the songs are mournful, and she doesn't believe that God wants us to be so very sad in the days running up to the sacifice of Jesus for us, we should be happy and grateful and full of the knowledge of the blessing God gave us.

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    1. This makes me sad... I'm also Protestant (Presbyterian) and for us Lent isn't all gloom and sadness. In fact, every Sunday is considered a "Little Easter" when you break your fast and indulge in whatever you've been fasting from. In fact, if you count, the 6 Sundays in Lent aren't included in the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

      We also don't seek just to fast from things we like in order to make ourselves miserable. It's more about finding what things in your life tempt you, but don't do you good and in fact do you harm. (Example, as a mom, when I scroll social media on my phone while I'm with my kids. Harms our relationship.) I like what an earlier commenter said, likening it to a New Year's resolution. The "fast" should be a practice that adds value to our lives.

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    2. There's such a wide range of things that one could "give up" because everyone has their own experiences and thought process. For instance, I've never scrolled through social media while with my kids, it's just not something I do. Also, giving up something that's bad for you isn't a sacrifice, it's a logical life choice. Lent always meant giving up something that you love...like meat or candy or an hour of extra sleep in the morning. Adding suffering to yourself, the way Jesus suffered for us. But He suffered so that we don't have to, and our paltry little sacrifices don't really amount to much. So I agree with what you say, but also disagree as to what a sacrifice is.

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  19. So I'm not here to enter the conversation about lent but as a librarian reader I can't resist the urge to fact check. Looks like the quote attributed to Pope Francis is accurate -or at least is being perpetuated on many Catholic churches websites.

    https://www.dailyworld.com/story/opinion/2018/02/06/pope-francis-offers-suggestions-observe-lent/311734002/

    https://diocesan.com/tag/lent2018/page/8/

    https://www.catholicgallery.org/article/pope-francis-lent-2017/

    https://bishopslentenappeal.org.za/category/2016-reflections/page/2/

    https://www.athboyparish.ie/our-parish/parish-prayer-space/




    -BSM7

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    1. Thank you for that! I appreciate your critical role as a librarian! Respect!

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  20. I've never observed lent, but I have twice now observed a "Facebook fast" at the urging of a religious leader, and it was really good for my mental health. (One was only a week, the other ten days)
    I now do a low-tech Sunday (no social media, minimum video and games) and I have found it a helpful reset.
    As a people pleaser, social media can be exhausting because it makes the world SO big and it's really hard to care about EVERYTHING lol. Taking a (little!) break helps put things in perspective and helps me put the people in front of my face first in my priorities. (It also makes me realize how I turn to my phone as a way to hide from emotional stress 🙈)

    I love how balanced and fair-minded you are Jen. Your posts NEVER stress me out (the opposite, actually ❤️).

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  21. I don't "do" lent, but gave up commenting (and working on reading) on online news stories. There are too many trolls just out there to rile others up. And, really, no one is going to change his or her mind because of something I've posted!
    I am debating the decision to make my blogs "no comments" (or even private) since I spend a lot of time going to other's blogs to comment during blog-hops, and NO ONE comes to mine! It's hard not to take it personally. People just want their own views up. I love the Internet and I hate the Internet!

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  22. I am certain that IF that came from Pope Francis that it was not meant to be disparaging to those who battle with depression or other mental illness. It is about choices and about what is in your control. It's more about mindful actions. Years ago I gave up yelling at my children. I did not succeed at that point, but I didn't give up and I have gotten better over time. I am a BIG fan of doing something extra for others rather than giving up something for oneself. It brings more compassion and understanding of which I believe this world is in dire need.

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  23. Like Lisa above, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I've done the 10 day social media fast, and I fast from food monthly. As on leader put it, if you don't combine it with prayer, meditation or focus on something larger than yourself, it's simply anorexia. One of the most powerful fasts I did was in the days before the internet, when I was challenged to fast from TV for one week. It was in that week that I realized how depressed I really was, and finally took the darn pill. Time to do it again, I think...

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  24. The church I grew up in had a steadfast policy that you 'took up' something for Lent. Volunteering, a resolution to do kindness, a charitable donation etc. Kids were supported to do a nice thing every day (craft sessions to make gifts, visiting old folks homes, learning about other cultures and how to embrace those). It was magical, as rather than counting down the days until you could eat chocolate again, people began new habits that then stayed with them for the rest of the year and beyond.

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  25. I am an Orthodox Christian, and we do Lent, just not at the exact same time as Western Christians do. (See history) I have enjoyed Lent as a time for quietly hunkering down and doing some interior and spiritual housekeeping. All the Lenten liturgies help with this, and it ends up feeling like spring cleaning. Being part of a group doing this is nice too, as everyone has an expectation that we are all going to me a bit more laid back and quiet. Some of this may just be Midwesterners at the end of winter, too.
    Jen and John, you two do good work.

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  26. We do "A Month Without" challenges throughout the year. Not every month, but a few. Some "withouts" we've done are: without meat, without plastic, without driving, without evening screen time, without any animal products, without carbonation, and without empty calories. (Those last two were mostly just "without beer" ;) ) Ideas for our future months are: without complaining, without waste, and we want to do one fitness-related one, but it doesn't fit the without model and we are theme purists. Maybe without being sedentary? I dunno...that's a stretch, haha!

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  27. As well, when you give up a certain food for a length of time (whether it be chocolate, meat, alcohol or sweets), you suddenly become aware of what you are eating and how you are spending your money. Mindless eating can no longer happen and you are also aware of why you are doing it (especially when you have to explain to your mother why you can't have that fantastic steak dinner followed by chocolate mousse the restaurant offered Friday night).

    As well, I was taught that, if you did mindlessly start eating something you were abstaining from, it is also a waste of food, so now you have to finish eating it while simultaneously remembering that you shouldn't have. Strangely, it doesn't taste like a "guilty pleasure" but like sand in your mouth because you broke a promise.

    Lastly, we Catholics are good at understanding the realities of life and celebration. You are allowed to celebrate legitimate feasts (like St. Patrick's day if you are Irish or your anniversary if you were like me and silly enough to get married during Lent) but just for the length of the feast.

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  28. I usually give up soda and try not to use my credit cards unnecessarily. This year I am also giving up online dating. I want to be dating; I want a relationship. But I am overwhelmed and discouraged and need to take a step back, and this is a good way for me to hold myself accountable. I don't do it because of Jesus or any of that, but I feel like it's easier to try a new thing when lots of other people are also trying a new thing, even if it's different for everyone.

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  29. I always gave up candy for lent and it was a true sacrifice, and I love(d) candy. One of my friends had a birthday sleepover during lent every year and I never could eat the candy treats! Her mother really thought I was amazing for holding fast, even though my parents would never know.

    At the end you got a sickening amount of candy for Easter. That was the reward, other than any religious significance a child could wring from the experience.

    My mother still used to give up chocolate every year for lent, but now that she's in her 90's, she feels exempt and eats an astonishingly large amount of chocolate and treats daily.

    Myself, I'm a "Recovering Catholic".

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  30. Aimée and Dana and I were talking about this recently. It really resonated with me, even though I'm not, nor ever have been, Catholic, nor someone who practices Lent. Thanks.

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  31. I was raised Methodist and I don't observe Lent. However my boss is Catholic. So it would get interesting trying to plan the Friday lunch outings while he gave up red meat. :)

    Not to cause an argument either, but the "taking up space" idea doesn't feel particularly feminist to me. Perhaps since I've always sat in whatever position felt comfortable (wearing a skirt being the lone exception for obvious reasons) and stretched when the urge arises. It also seems like it would go against the spirit of Lent? Just my perception of it though.

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  32. Thanks for posting this. As a gifted artist as yourself you could donate some of your talents to a nursing home or school that needs something creative done. I painted a children's playroom for a local Jewish center.All the supplies for the project were donated or I had on hand like paint. Some Senior Centers need an artist class like flower making or crafting. By giving of your time and talents you are sharing a piece of yourself an offering so to speak. And showing a form of love to our fellow humans. Hope this helps :)

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  33. Not a Lent-related comment, but I can't see/hear "Shake it Off" and not think of this. So hopefully it will give you a chuckle while you read the more relevant replies: Supernatural Parody

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  34. I'm late to the game, but I can't help but add to the discussion. I'm Orthodox Christian and always have been. Lent is serious business for us We start out 2 weeks beforehand in mearfare week, using up all the meat in the house Then we have cheesefare week, where we eat all the dairy fish, and eggs. Finally we get to the beginning of Lent It's Clean Monday for us, not Ash Wednesday We don't choose what to give up, we're supposed to do it in consultation with our priests who should know our unique situations. For most healthy people Lent means a vegan diet (with some shellfish allowed). The food is just one part of it though. We are also supposed to increase our "alms giving," so more to charity whether that's money or time We're also supposed to increase prayer and meditation both individually and as a church. We spend more time on personal prayer and meditation and there are more and longer church services. It's all in service of helping us push aside all the craziness of the world to just focus on what's important. We eat less meat and dairy because historically those were the richest, most filling foods. If you're full and sleepy, you can't focus as well. It helps us gain discipline (there's never any sort of idea that we're fasting because God requires it or because it's some way to show off, in fact it's emphasized that this is how we clear our minds and build discipline. We're not supposed to even let on that we're fasting. If we get too focused on the food part, priests have been known to do things like tell people to go eat a burger and get over themselves). We are supposed to be in a state of joyful sorrow We're so excited that Easter is coming, but we're paring down everything in our lives because of the really serious problems in the world that meant there needed to be an Easter. We get so excited for Easter that even our church services are ahead of time. During Holy Week, we have the morning service for the next day on the evening before.

    All the things I see where people pick one thing to give up or try to just do more for charity is good, but I love the jumping in with both feet the way my family has done it for a couple of centuries. I love how hard it is and then how easy it gets after a couple of weeks. I love how it focuses me and frees me and reminds me of what I love and value. It's big and it's hard and it's possible to fail (and I have) and there's a heck of a party at the end of it. It's so reaffirming.

    As someone with anxiety and seasonal depression, it's really valuable to me to have this spring reset where I peel away all the extra stuff and just focus on my mental and spiritual health. My anxious brain loves that it's at the same time every year and I look forward to just pushing everything aside and breathing in something peaceful for a while

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