Secrets to a Successful Lent

Are you doing Lent because you want to or because you feel obligated to?

As you may remember, last year was the first time I successfully completed Lent. Although it wasn’t a spiritual goal of mine last year, it has now become an annual spiritual goal going forward. (Although you wouldn’t know it since I left it off my list of goals for 2010 and 2009, d’oh!)

For those who don’t know, Lent is the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter where Christians often sacrifice something important to them as a means of self-denial.

Just in case you’re interested: Personally, I prefer my religion buffet-style. I was raised Methodist, but the more I read about other religions, the more my fascination grows, and so I add a little bit of this and a pinch of that to my own dogma.

Now back to Lent. As I said, up until last year, I had never successfully completed Lent. So what made last year different? How is that I was able to give up two things I absolutely love: meat and red wine?

I started with why.

Why was I making the choice to participate in Lent?

I wanted to complete the Lent season because I thought the purpose behind it was noble. I knew that although it would pain me to give up the things I loved, when I was able to have them again, they would taste even better than I remembered.

Going through the sacrifice of Lent would give me a renewed appreciation I could not have attained otherwise. (Unless I were to be a victim of a natural disaster or some other unusual catastrophe.)

Once I had my “why” for doing Lent, the self-discipline came much more easily than being told to do it “just because that’s what we do.”

Going through the Lent process builds several essential characteristics necessary to help you achieve any goal:

  • Self-discipline
  • Sacrifice
  • Humility

This year, I’m taking my Lent sacrifice one step-further: I’m giving up all alcohol.

It’s definitely going to be a challenge. (I honestly can’t remember the last time I went 40 days without a drop of alcohol – probably sometime before the age of 21.) But I know why I’m doing it, I know I’m disciplined enough for it, and I know I will receive help and support from my friends and family when I need it.

And I know how amazing that first glass of wine will taste when I can have it again!

Are you participating in Lent? What are you giving up?

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8 Responses to Secrets to a Successful Lent

  1. at276601 says:

    That’s awesome of you. I’m giving up the meat — but I can’t handle the alcohol just yet.

  2. Emily says:

    This is my first year of Lent. I am also Methodist, so I’ve never really had to deal with this sacrifice before. I have never really liked the idea of giving something up for Lent because it seems like it’s grown into the new New Year’s resolution list. For some people, there isn’t much “true” meaning behind the act. (Though I suppose you could argue that Christmas and other religious holidays have become much the same thing.) I admire people who go into the season with a firm concentration as to why they are doing it in the first place.

    Anyway, this year I am giving up Coke/pop/soda. I suppose I will be able to tell later if it helped my spiritual growth or if I just jumped on the bandwagon with this one.

  3. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    Oooh, giving up pop/soda is a good one, Emily! As I said, as long as you are sure you’re doing it because YOU want to (not just because you’re jumping on a bandwagon) and WHY you’re doing it, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it can be.

  4. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    That’s OK; I’m very impressed with how good you’ve been about giving up meat. That’s another tough one!

  5. Kreddy says:

    I grew up Catholic but never realized until I was an adult that there are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter because Sundays are not counted as Lent. So if you are not a purist you can have that glass of wine on Sundays (or the chocolate or the meat or whatever.) My husband and I try each year to give up alcohol and last year was the first year I was completely successful (he has done it several times). It’s not on the agenda this year for several reasons but I was sure proud of myself last year. Good luck to you. FYI: we found it a lot easier to go booze free on Sundays.

  6. Congrats! I gave up desserts, because that is something I truly cannot live without. Hahaha… Joe said he was giving up whiskey, but the next day he bought a bottle. So much for that! haha…

    Good luck! I know you can do it.

  7. Laura Lee Bloor says:

    I didn’t know you were big on desserts? I think you’ll be able to give that up without too much of a problem. As for Joe, yeah, I could have told you that wasn’t going to happen! He needs baby steps…just going one week without wiskey would be a great start!

  8. Going ONE DAY without whiskey would be a start! hahaha…

    Yep, I’m a dessert-aholic. I literally will avoid eating real food so I can save room for dessert. I am a sugar addict, as well, so that’s mainly where the desserts thing comes in. (This is one of the things I’m working on thru school.)

    You’d think it’d be easy to give it up, but it’s not as easy as you think. For me, desserts are like alcohol for you. In fact, the second day of Lent, I was ready to call it quits and make a huge ice cream sundae. But I didn’t 🙂

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